Happy Thursday, Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here! You excited by the X-Force review we ran earlier? Well, get ready for a double dose, with your weekly helping of Rapid Fire Reviews! As always, if you're interested in reading more of our work, just check out the Best Shots Topic Page. And now... read on!
New Avengers #64 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Brendan McGuirk): After the events of New Avengers #64, I'm not entirely confident that the whole Siege of Asgard wasn't just a long, contrived con, setting Brian Bendis up for this issue's Bobby Brown/ Whitney Houston joke. But y'know, I wouldn't even hold that against the series, because I think the line kills. In a way. Mike McKone is back on art chores here in this tale from Siege's villainous camp, and once again delivers with flair. The one thing Bendis et al. undoubtedly deserve credit for on New Avengers is patience in storytelling. The Hood was never simply thrown onto the scene, and assumed to suddenly be a heavy hitter. Instead, far-reaching lengths have been gone to in taking this one-time MAX miniseries flash-in-the-pan and turning him into a bona fide scoundrel of the Marvel U. We've seen the games he has played, and we have seen his power concentrate. Now, with the scales of power in flux, we're beginning to see The Hood for who he is. When the dust settles, expect The Hood to survive. After all, that's what a good criminal does best.
Justice Society of America #38 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): I love alternate histories and futures, so seeing how a mysterious Future Reich took over the DC Universe is really fascinating to me. Arguably, Bill Willingham tells the story just as much (if not more) than he shows it, but he has a strong enough voice as a narrator to make it all work. Jesus Merino, meanwhile, really steps up his game with his composition and clarity here -- really, everything is a treat to watch. The only places he stumbles, I would argue, are in the faces, where I think he and inker Jesse Delperang could go a little less overboard with the numerous lines. Ultimately, this issue feels a little incomplete, storywise -- but I have the feeling that when read with its follow-up, it'll read fantastically. A little unsatisfying with the conclusion, but at the very least, Willingham's got me down for another month.
Captain America #605 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): This issue doesn't pretend to be anything other than an old-fashioned brawl -- but you know something? It rocks. Luke Ross and Butch Guice really start this issue off on a good foot -- Bucky has never looked this good, especially not in his old outfit. There's a real sense of power in the body language here, and they -- along with writer Ed Brubaker -- do a great job with the pacing. (And also, the fact that they have human-strength Bucky favor his bionic left arm the whole time? There's a lot of points for consistency, right there.) And Brubaker makes for a great, poignant ending to all this, as well. It's not high philosophy, nor should it be -- but it is some solid stuff.
Invincible #71 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Brendan McGuirk): You almost expect soaring overtures to begin when you open to the first page of The Viltrumite War, kicking off this issue. This one, wordman Robert Kirkman assures us, is what we've all been waiting for. This one's for all the Invincible marbles. Threads that began at all different points throughout this series are being woven together here, and in a title as committed to story advancement as this one, it's impossible to imagine that Invincible's world won't be fundamentally changed when it's all said and done. It's about to get real. Really real. This issue kicks things off with more hard-hitting emotional scenes than action ones, as the war preparations are made. Chess pieces are moved into place, and the stakes are made clear. Mark Grayson may be Invincible, but he's finally vulnerable.
The A-Team War Stories: Murdock (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by David Pepose): This issue is such a hoot. Chuck Dixon and Erik Burnham really play the unreliable narrator card with gusto, with Howling Mad Murdock cutting a charming swath through this issue. Whether it's good-naturedly cracking an orderly in the nose, or making up stories about cannibal heavies in the Middle East, Hannibal is a character with a lot of character. Guiu Vilanova isn't exactly the cleanest artist in the world -- there's one page in particular where he just does without faces on a couple characters -- but at the same time, his uncomplicated style allows the story to get on its way. If you don't know much about the A-Team, or are simply looking to get your fix before the movie comes out, give this book a look. It's a movie tie-in that still stands on its own two feet.
The Incredibles #8 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by David Pepose): Maybe it's Landry Walker, or maybe it's just the inherent strength of the characters, but this issue is positively dripping with a strong voice. I really dig the focus on Mrs. Incredible and Agent Mirage, and Walker really uses the continuity of the film -- I can't believe I'm saying that, the continuity of the movie -- to really make some sparks between the two. Marcio Takara's art looks great as well, although occasionally I feel like it would have benefited from some tighter inks. But there's a lot going on in this issue, which never seems to pause to catch its breath -- and believe me, it doesn't need to. Despite a surprisingly dark intro, this book proudly carries on the Pixar tradition -- not only is this book a blast for kids, but its great for anyone who loves the medium.