Best Shots Rapid Reviews: BATMAN & ROBIN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Best Shots Rapid Reviews
Ahoy ahoy, Rama Readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, coming to you with the rockin' reviewers of the Best Shots Team! We've got a ton of reviews from a ton of publishers, including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Vertigo and Red 5 Comics. Want some more? You got it, over at the Best Shots Topic Page. And now, let's start this column in Gotham City, as I take a peek at the new creative team over at Batman and Robin!
Click here for preview): Are you one of those comics fans who desperately wants some palpable, tangible changes in their comics? Point A to Point B just isn't enough, you need movement? Well, Amazing Spider-Man #654 should be the comic for you this week, because Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente really give a lot of heft to this final chapter of the Spider-Slayer saga. I know that a lot of people might have some issue with the death in this chapter — hint, it's not who you think — but the thing that particularly surprised me was how Slott, after giving so much good stuff to Peter, has now taken away one of his most necessary assets. You want to make Spider-Man a different kind of crimefighter? This might just be the way to do it. Stefano Caselli, meanwhile, really tears out in this issue, and I love the way that the fight goes from sundown to night, thanks to some really smart colorwork from Marte Garcia. Combine that with an introduction to the new Venom? This is an issue that'll really stick with you. Click here for preview) There’s a lot to like in this introduction to a world where the seal between the magical and earthly realms has been ripped open. Pockets of miracles and chaos have broken out across America and the globe, everything from a resurrected family pet to a dragon flying over Manhattan. These acts, which take place outside the “normal” flow of magic, appear to have been triggered by a single, powerful being. However, the U.S. government isn’t exactly rolling out the red carpet, which raises questions about where the real danger lies. Is the unnamed catalyst really a threat, or just a convenient, misunderstood scapegoat? And how does it connect to the mysterious young woman who escapes from a mental institution? Jon Price’s story moves along briskly and doesn’t get too bogged down in exposition and obscure, supernatural details. Rebekah Isaacs’ smooth, expressive art takes center stage, most notably in an apocalyptic, two-page spread of destruction inside a shopping mall. It’s a stunning image, one of several that are enhanced by Charlie Kirchoff’s vivid, glowing color work. Magus #1 will certainly hook fans of paranormal stories, but it's an accessible, appealing comic book, period. Click here for preview ): Plastered on the cover and the recap page of this issue are “Death of Spider-Man” banners but guess what? I can’t find any mention of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, webs or arachnids anywhere in this book. What’s up with that? What you do get is Captain America, Thor and Giant Man trapped in a situation where they don’t know who their friends or their enemies are. Mark Millar’s story is all over the place, picking up threads from other books, making this not a very new reader friendly #1 issue. Characters are introduced and their relationship with existing characters is unexplained and unexplored. It’s a whirlwind of action in this issue but it’s like Mark Millar forgot that what made his original Ultimates book successful was the re-imagination of Marvel characters. There’s nothing in these characters in this issue that separates them from their Marvel U counterparts. Captain America is Captain America; Thor is Thor. What was great about Millar’s Ultimates is that the characters were recognizable but different. In this issue, they’re just recognizable. Click here for preview ): It's funny to see where Wolverine has gone these days, especially under the purview of writer Jason Aaron. Aaron has drenched Wolverine with some seriously black comedy, topping it off with a surprising amount of... sweetness? From the get-go, Aaron gives readers an easy-to-grasp voice of the Ol' Canucklehead, and gives him some R-rated cannibal crooks to duke it out with. Jefte Paolo, however, might not be the most accessible artist in the world — he's got that hard line, like a seed of Bill Sienkiewicz, but I think that might be a bit of an acquired taste. Aaron also gets to be a little bit self-indulgent by bringing the Avengers into this book, and I think that decision is double-edged: On the one hand, it's great to see how the different characters of the Marvel Universe see Logan (and the moment where we see Spider-Man is the funniest bit of the book), but on the other hand, isn't the point of these Point One books to give readers an easy jumping-on point for the character themselves? In that regard, I feel like more introspection, looking at Wolverine's storied past through the decades, might have been more helpful to new readers. Still, the character in this book is rock-solid, and that'll certainly please fans, if not new readers. Click here for preview): While Peter David does excellent work with ensembles and solo characters alike, his best writing is often the kind that takes one or two characters from an ensemble and zooms in on them, highlighting their hopes and fears and way of relating to the world and making their place in the ensemble that much stronger as a result. Such is the case with X-Factor #215, a one-shot client-of-the-week issue that largely focuses on Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller. While the case itself is interesting enough, it’s the interaction between Jamie and Layla, and the things that interaction reveals about each of them, that brings the comic to another level. Since their trip to the future, Layla’s sudden adulthood, and their surprising first kiss, Jamie and Layla have both been a bit off-kilter, individually and together. With that issue David expands on the effects of that loss of balance, exploring just how uncertain the normally-composed Layla actually is and the extent of Jamie’s (externally-enacted) internal conflict regarding his feelings for her. David, to his credit, is slowly turning the two of them into a viable romantic possibility, something I never expected when the vision of their future marriage first appeared and Layla was still a child, and that potential relationship serves to shed an even brighter light on their characterizations. Valentine DeLandro’s art can be a bit inconsistent, with characters’ faces constantly changing from page to page, but that’s the only real dampener on what is otherwise another predictably excellent issue of X-Factor.