Best Shots Rapid Reviews: DETECTIVE COMICS, PUNISHER, More
Best Shots Rapid Reviews
Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for an avalanche of Rapid-Fire Reviews? Team Best Shots has you covered, with no less than 17 quick hits for this week's latest releases. Want some more? Be sure to check out the Best Shots Topics Page. And now, let's let Amanda kick off today's column, as we're reintroduced to the Dark Knight in Detective Comics #1...
Detective Comics #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Amanda McDonald; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In the midst of the new 52, there have been innumerable changes to the DC Universe. That said, the debut issue of Detective had me smiling in relief — the Batman we all know (and most of us love) is ever-present on these pages. With Tony S. Daniel in the driver's seat with both writing and pencils, we are meeting a Batman that is still his iconic self. There is a fine line between establishing character, and overwhelming the reader with too much character exposition. Daniel stays on the safe side and doesn't overwhelm us. He establishes the character, but it's not all in our face in this one issue. We know what we need to know to make the story work and we still get a great action packed issue that establishes the Batman/Joker rivalry. Bruce is still a millionaire playboy, asking Alfred to make apologies to missed dates and send flowers. Jim Gordon still turns to him for assistance. He is inherently a detective as well as a hero, as we read his inner monologue as he analyzes clues and narrows down his options for finding the Joker. Our "new" Joker is classic Joker, on a killing spree and bent on taking down Batman. Or is he? When the opportunity arises, he misses his mark and finds himself at Arkham where the book takes a very dark turn as we learn the Joker isn't operating alone. And oh, is there operating going on! Take a look at the last pages and you'll see something rather horrific, but definitely an image that has me hooked already and looking forward to seeing what comes next. Not only is this a solid story, but Daniel's art hits the mark as well. His action sequences have a very kinetic style to them, especially evidenced in the panels where Bruce and the Joker face off. Tomeu Morey's colors and Jared K. Fletcher's lettering don't interfere with the flow, serving to support and enhance the strong artwork and script. Daniel is really the star on this book and I hope it keeps up its strength in both areas. This is a great introductory issue, and definitely one I can see new readers getting hooked on. As someone who has read Tec for awhile, I would have appreciated just a bit more exposition such as knowing when chronologically the book is taking place, but maybe that will be coming in future issues. I'll definitely be staying tuned.
Click here for preview): Champion of the oppressed, indeed. Grant Morrison wasn't kidding when he said he was taking the Lost Son of Krypton back to his Shuster and Siegel roots. This is a Superman that would rather get corrupt businessmen to air their crimes on the street of Metropolis, than go toe-to-toe with a galactic menace. And you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way. We all know Superman's origin, so Morrison made the right call when he decided to start readers, new and old, right in the thick of Kal-El's earliest days. In fact, throughout the book, I kept hearing the opening narration from the original radio dramas. There was the Superman of myth. Leaping tall buildings. Faster than a speeding bullet. And yes, stronger than the most powerful locomotive (though just barely). The story wonderfully introduces us to all the key players. A Jimmy hungry to respect and friends. A strong and independent Lois Lane. An arrogant Lex Luthor. Finally, Morrison gives us a Clark Kent that is just off the farm, but is not the naïve country boy we always assume. This Clark knows how the world works, indeed, it is why he knows we need a Superman. While Rags Morales wouldn't have been my first choice for artist, I was pleasantly surprised in his work in Action Comics. The actions scenes, as you'd hope, are big and bold. But, where he really shines are the personal moments. Like when Superman stands with the common person on the street, or when Clark Kent interacts with his kindly landlady. Thematically, these moments reminded me of Ditko's Silver Age Peter Parker. Hard to top that kind of comic book magic. Superman is back and the never-ending battle for Truth and Justice continues!
Click here for preview): Like many decompressed stories before it, this run of Moon Knight took a while to get going, but is starting to hit its stride. In this issue Avenger Echo and ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. employee Buck Lime both get some well-deserved panel time, and the introduction of the nonplussed Detective Hall provides still more dry and acerbic wit. Don't let the cutting sense of humor fool you; this is a comic about people who care. The characters care messily, in the wrong ways and often for disturbing reasons, but they care. This is a relationships issue, a series of fallout moments after the fight with the Night Shift, but this is also the issue where the investment of reading the series starts to pay off. When Moon Knight is fighting with himself about whether to run or submit to the police or help Echo, the voices' identities are clear just from the color of the lettering and the tone of the advice. The threats and conflicts in this issue are personal, and even when they're not, the characters make them personal. The story is perfectly accessible even to people who haven't been keeping up with the series, but a lot of the fun here lies in seeing the way these characters succeed or fail horribly at interacting about everything that's happened until this point. This is a good issue, a character-based reward for the investment of reading the other four that came before it.
Wolverine: Debt of Death #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): David Aja drawing Wolverine. That's pretty much all you need to know whether or not you'd like Wolverine: Debt of Death, a one-shot that's less of a cohesive story and more of a done-in-one exercise in getting the former Iron Fist artist to draw giant robots, Nick Fury, aerial combat, and one tough-as-nails Canucklehead. So that all said… it's pretty awesome. Aja is the modern Mazzucchelli with his art style, with a bit more of a chunkiness to his inkwork that gives it a raw, dirty, almost filmic look. I also love Aja's layouts — there's a sequence where we see some S.H.I.E.L.D. experimental aircraft, and he cuts through the steel to see Nick Fury sitting doggedly behind a control stick. And all these visuals are a good thing, because David Lapham's story, well, it's certainly broad, but it's also basically just window-dressing — it doesn't say too much about Wolverine as a character, and really, Logan takes his sweet time showing up in this story, and still has to compete with all the back story of the Japanese family he has to rescue. But comics like these? Well, you're not really reading them because of the story. You're reading Debt of Death because it's one of the best-looking books on the stands.
Static Shock #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Wendy Holler; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10) :The setup for the Static Shock reboot is perfect even if this first issue is a bit rocky. When the comic opens, Virgil Hawkins has moved with his family to New York City. He's a high school student by day and a S.T.A.R. labs intern by night. The comic immediately makes use of his exposure to S.T.A.R. by having a pilot steal and activate a plasma protection suit. The story begins in medias fight as Static cracks joke after shamelessly bad joke. When a character is assassinated less than halfway through the issue, it's clear that the comic is setting itself apart from previous, younger incarnations. At the same time, having Hardware show up as Static's mentor shows interest in the comic's Milestone heritage. The art is active and energetic, and the coloring bathes New York City in warm, inviting tones. Static's antagonists and family are introduced quickly but efficiently, and the comic ends with a cliffhanger and a truly wretched pun. This version of Static is likable, though goofy, and the issue suggests all kinds of great story possibilities. The writing is the weakest point here, with dialogue that misses and monologue that feels unnecessary, but those missteps might be forgiven as part of the difficulty of reintroduction. Individual moments, like the playfully clever cover, show promise, and if the comic feels a bit like a DC universe version of a young Spider-Man, well, there are far worse things to feel like. Much like the character himself, Static Shock needs some time to grow.
Morning Glories #12 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Part of me almost feels like I've given Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma the benefit of the doubt with this issue, considering how much I've enjoyed the previous few chapters. Don't get me wrong, the inclusion of the newest faculty member of this sinister school is pretty refreshing, but at the same time, there's a part of me that wonders if she's fully developed as a character. Miss Hodge certainly comes off as the most human of any of the teachers, but at the same time, she's pretty much on an unbroken win streak the majority of this issue, tearing up Miss Daramount and reaching out to our stressed-out heroes. The other thing that gets me about this particular issue is that because it's a bit talky, it doesn't quite give artist Joe Eisma a lot of room to really knock your socks off — he's got a couple of nice beats, particularly Zoe's look of bemusement when Hodge rips into her, but ultimately, it's a little too much material to fit in this many pages, with some of the layouts looking just a little bit too short for my tastes. It's not a bad issue by any stretch of the imagination, but after the past few knockouts, Morning Glories definitely is catching a breather.
Batwing #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): It was hard to go into this comic with an open mind. After a Barbara Gordon that again had the use of her legs, the “Batman of Africa” written by Judd Winick, was the most contentious launch. Why the conversations had around the comic are still valid, it's time to judge the books on its merits alone. Most of Batwing #1 is told via flashback. We see what led David Zavimbi, an officer in the Tinasha Police Department, to become the Batman of Africa. The story has some potential, though it had many (almost too many) similarities to Dick Grayson's early adventures in Blüdhaven as Nightwing. Winick writes just enough to keep me interested in the ongoing mystery of Batwing's villain, Massacre, and why he's killing people; but just barely. I found myself wanting to know more about a vanished team of African superheroes called The Kingdom than Batwing. A single man representing a continent is a huge stretch, but a whole team? Sure. Visually, Ben Oliver has potential. His style reminds me of an unrefined Salvador Larroca on Invincible Iron Man. His real strength lies in his use of shadows and negative space. Batwing is all about building a myth, both among the innocent and the evil. In time, I think Oliver can pull it off. My strongest beef comes in his backgrounds, or rather, lack thereof. Almost every action in this comic takes place in front of one solid color or another. Unless the scene demanded an element to drive the story, it simply exists to hold the characters. That style works when used sparingly, but panel after panel becomes tedious. Batwing has potential, but it will be a hard climb.
Potter's Field TPB (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Jeff Marsick; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): BOOM!'s excellent mini-series from 2007 gets the trade paperback treatment this week. Written by Mark Waid and drawn by the not-nearly-appreciated-enough Paul Azaceta, Potter's Field is a moody noir-ish tale about the enigmatic John Doe, a stranger with means and influence who seeks to put names and faces on the anonymous buried in the titular graveyard of western Long Island. Doe is something of a Shadow or Jon Sable Freelance for the new millennium, enlisting by hook or by crook the help of a rich network of agents from various specialties to aid him in his endeavor. It's one of the smartest thrillers you'll find outside of Criminal and Mark Waid is every bit as good as Ed Brubaker here, with tight drama that reels the reader in and taut action sequences that pull you to the edge of your seat and defy you to put the book down even for a moment. Waid's Irredeemable and Incorruptible are very good, but his work here is better. It helps that Paul Azaceta is such a perfect fit to the tone of the book, bringing a degree of darkness and hardness to the characters that the work deserves. Nick Filardi's colors deepen the mood so that there's a constant and palpable drear even while John Doe is trying to bring about some semblance of illumination. It has an EZ Streets vibe to it, and why it hasn't been optioned as a television show is as great a mystery as the ones John Doe tries to solve. I can't recommend this book enough. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!