Best Shots Rapid Reviews: FLASH, SECRET AVENGERS, More
Best Shots Rapid Reviews
Greetings, Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, coming to you with the rock-solid reviewers from the Best Shots team! The team has been hard at work with yesterday's haul, as we've got some big releases from DC, Marvel and Image for your reading perusal. As always, if you're looking for even more Best Shots goodness, check out the Best Shots Topic Page! And now, let's think fast with George Marston, as he rides the lightning with The Flash...Click here for preview): Ironically, I kind of wish this story was moving a little faster. We've finally gotten to the next twist, and while it's a good story development, parts of it certainly seem a little out of the blue. I definitely appreciate wanting to bring Barry Allen back to his old title with a good old fashioned Rogues tale featuring his old arch-enemies, but I can't say I wouldn't appreciate a bit more haste in reestablishing things. More than anything, I can't wait for Barry Allen to really shine. Geoff Johns displays a good understanding of the character, but sadly, the character doesn't really move past the old complaint that he's kind of flat. On one hand, Barry works perfectly as a normal dude surrounded by crazy happenstance such as time travel, talking gorillas, ray guns, and the like, but those things have to come at him a little quicker to effectively convey that he's the bastion of normalcy in the tornado of sci-fi weirdness. Francis Manapul really steals the show, however, as his art is just getting better and better. The story may be losing me a little, but the Flash sure does look cool running around and getting hit with freeze rays and stuff. Overall, of the ever-decreasing list of DC titles on my pull list, this is the one I look forward to the most, but right now I want more killer and less filler.Click here for preview) As a creature of myth in a world of science, Thor has always occupied a unique space in Marvel's broader tapestry. In some stories, Thor is a god whose chief concerns surround godly matters. In others, it is the expansive cosmos that have drawn the lightning. With this issue, Fraction and Ferry seem to strike a balance that emphasizes less on the definitional parameters of godly science than on the storytelling possibilities of their intersecting points. It is telling that Thor himself doesn't make an appearance until halfway through this story, as nuanced long-form groundwork is laid by new ideas and threats. The harmony of the Nine Worlds is in danger from new and alien threats, and the Asgardians are at their weakest point in an eon. The stage is set for a taxing trial for the greatest of the gods. Meanwhile, Thor's characterization is rough and abrasive, battle-worn from the trials of Siege and its aftermath, and hearkens back to his pre-Donald Blake headstrong days. This issue promises huge potential to longtime Thor fans. With his Eisner-winning Iron Man run, Matt Fraction has proven to be an expert at challenging and redefining stalwart characters. With searing lighting and almost ethereal line work, Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth have captured an entirely new voice in their visual execution of the Asgardian worlds. Finally, John Workman, famously familiar with the title after lettering Walt Simonson's classic tenure, brings the reading experience together with his comprehensive narrative flair. A new age of Thor is upon us, and it brings promise of bilateral action, regal melodrama and comedy most voluminous. So gather and rejoice, for the telling of a new epic poem has begun. And we're not even a stanza in. Click here for preview): A pretty good comic in its own right, with one flaw that isn't fatal... at least, not yet. Ed Brubaker does something unusual, taking a step back from Steve Rogers' new team and going down the continuity rabbit hole with a character from Nick Fury's past. It'd be disappointing, except for the fact that there's a lot of panache to this globe-trotting espionage detour — it almost reads like an issue of Secret Warriors, but can you really complain about more opportunities for Nick Fury to look ultra-cool? But I think the real pull here is with the art team — David Aja, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano really tear it up, even if I'm not altogether convinced that colorist Jose Villarrubia gave the mood enough darkness. There's a panel where Fury disappears, with the newspapers he was reading fluttering across a park bench, that looks absolutely stunning. But the question, the potential fly in the ointment, is this: Why do we need this new character? It seems like an awful lot of continuity acrobatics — 22 pages, no less — to justify one semi-curious cliffhanger. If there's a plan, then I'll be interested to see where this guy ends up. If not, well, this super-spy may end up being the Secret Avengers' worst enemy after all — he'll be kneecapping their first arc.Click here for preview): I was disappointed when I saw that Marjorie Liu wasn’t on writing duty for Black Widow this month. Thankfully, Duane Swierczynski competently steps up to the plate in the first part of his new story arc, “Kiss or Kill.” Poor Natasha can’t get a break, even as she’s trying to help someone who, based on wrong information, is trying to kill her. I was glad that Swierczynski has given Black Widow a difficult, emotional story worthy of her, and the ending was, quite literally, mindblowing. One thing: I don’t know that I bought that Natasha could ever convincingly disguise herself as a man, even in a mask and baggy clothes. This is a woman who made a burqua-like garment look good in House of M (I think!). However, Manuel Garcia’s harsh drawing makes everyone look a bit mannish, so I guess that helps? I miss Daniel Acuna’s style. Garcia’s hasty pencils are vague and inconsistent, save one or two panels, and much of it looks as though it was drawn in a rush. It may well have been, but I shouldn’t know that. “Kiss or Kill” had a strong start as a story, and I’m looking forward to knowing what happens next. I just don’t particularly want to look at it. Click here for preview): Books like this are always a challenge to review, because it's got the good, the bad and the ugly all wrapped into one. Is there another book this week that oscillates this much in tone and visual style? As far as the emotion goes, Judd Winick starts off pretty strong... and eventually flies off the handle. In certain ways, it's just a matter of pacing — there seems to be a little too much story to cram into 22 pages, and so crucial points of set-up like the loss of Clark's father or Nightwing's emotional fallout feels satisfying, but altogether a little short. And Winick isn't without some missteps — having Superman furiously shouting at Batman to "take it off" is more chuckle-worthy than cathartic. What I think sets this book apart is the artwork from Marcos Rudy, in the fact that it veers from genius to rushed and back again, sometimes on the same page — his opening sequence with Superman in silhouette is gorgeous, as is the shadow across Batman's face as he stares into the infinite. Yet other panels, like Superman during Batman's autopsy, looks so flat it almost looks like it was by a different artist. If you're a fan of Winick or Rudy or just curious about Superman's reaction after the Final Crisis, this could be a decent book to check out — if not, though, this might be one untold story that you can afford to miss. Click here for preview): Issue #14 is the final part of an intense story called “Tainted Love.” This issue, as was the one before it, is surprisingly dark, and Brian Michael Bendis has managed to bring Peter Parker to a really damaged place while maintaining the title’s lightness and humor when appropriate. Bendis has done amazing things to the Ultimate Universe dynamic, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Peter’s recent experiences change him, as well as the other young superheroes who live with him. David LaFuente is the perfect artist for this title, and Justin Ponsor the perfect colorist. Their pages have a youthful exuberance that’s appropriate for this cast of characters, and LaFuente’s faces do a lot to convey the emotional roller-coaster of the script. Also, there’s nothing creepier than Peter Parker’s head on a corseted woman’s body. (I just really made you want to read it, now, didn’t I!) Ultimate Spider-Man has been one of my favorite series for a long time, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. Click here for preview): Remember when I said I was removing this from my pull list? Well, I forgot. So there it was, waiting for me at the local comic shop yesterday. It's like an old friend you see going down the wrong path. It's hard to just look away. So I keep reading it, and I keep waiting for it to charm me the way it once did. If you're in the same boat, I'm sorry to report that this isn't the issue that's going to do it. After revealing to PeeGee that he knows her secret, much of this issue is spent with her trying to convince her employee Nicco to not spill the beans as well as finding her former accountant who has run the business into the ground. I do have to say that I enjoyed the fight sequence that kicked off the issue. I think that alone exemplifies my problem with this book — I just can't get into Winick's story telling. The art in the book works for me; Basri has grown on me and makes a very attractive book. However when it comes to the major plot lines and the dialogue, there's not the spark I'm looking for from this series. I imagine there is a fan base that gives a hoot about what is going on with Karen's company, but I'm just not one of them.