Best Shots Comic Reviews: NEW 52 #1s, THUNDERBOLTS, More

GAIL SIMONE Talks BATGIRL & ORACLE

Ready for some reviews, 'Rama fans? Best Shots is — let's cut to the chase and see what we've got cooking! Amanda will kick off today's column with a look at the first issue of Batgirl...

 

Batgirl #1

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Ulises Arreola

Lettering by Dave Sharpe

Published by DC Comics

Review by Amanda McDonald

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

The Joker never beat me. The bullet never beat me. - Barbara Gordon

Even before I was a full-fledged comic book fan, I was a Barbara Gordon fan. Batgirl was a librarian, and so was I. I continued to follow what I joked was "the Barbara Gordon career path," transitioning into an IT position. Imagine my concern when I learned that Barbara was to return to her Batgirl mantle, and that it was likely that my current favorite character, Oracle, would be no more. Not only was I losing a favorite character, but Barbara was losing her status as a person with disability. Living with a paraplegic, I was more than curious to see how her recovery would be explained.

I'm still waiting.

This debut issue jumps right into the action, introducing us to a villain named The Mirror with a to-do list of people to murder (including Barbara Gordon), as well as to a group called the Brisby Killers. I've always admired writer Gail Simone's ability to sneak witty barbs into otherwise serious stories, and this book is no exception, as the killers note they are not so "geographically rigid" as to limit themselves to the Gotham suburb of Brisby. Barbara uses her status as the Commissioner's daughter to gain access to police files and communications, and prides herself in figuring out the group's next target before the police force does. Batgirl is most certainly back in action, as she takes out these four before we learn anything about what's been going on with her up to this point, aside from that she has "upper arm strength like a mother." Ardian Syaf's pencils and Vicente Cifuentes' inks don't hold back on the action scenes and set the tone for this book as a decidedly not all-ages appropriate title, as the previous Stephanie Brown incarnation was. The action sequences are well executed and graphic, but not gratuitously. Each panel is composed tightly and furthers the story as Dave Sharpes' lettering tunes us into Barbara's rather cocky inner thoughts as she gets back into battle mode. These scenes are where the art really shines, as opposed to the more static parts of the story that suffice to tell the story, but are lacking in expression and consistency.

In perhaps the most striking page of this issue, Simone lets us in on Barbara's nightmares. The paneling mirrors a partial bat-symbol and the actions of 1988's The Killing Joke are revealed to have indeed occurred in this continuity. However as Babs wakes, she states the quote above -- the bullet never beat [her]. So what did happen? This is where I get uncomfortable with this book. A miracle happened. For three years, she couldn't move or feel her legs. She had a L1 spinal injury. I think most any of us with even a tenuous grasp of medical science know that miracles like this just don't happen, sadly. And if they did? One certainly wouldn't be able to just jump up on their feet and start fighting crime, after three years of muscle atrophy. I am really hoping that Simone is using this plot device to hook us in and continue reading in hopes that we find out more about this supposed "miracle." If it's not addressed in some form, I really don't think I can keep reading the title. I know it's a comic book and liberties with reality can be taken -- however this is a topic too close to home for a lot of readers that have specifically been attracted to the Barbara Gordon character over the years due to her ability to transcend her physical limitations. Luckily Gail Simone has been very vocal via Twitter about her feelings for this character and continues to reference the former disability through the issue. While I want answers, and I want them now -- it's likely just a matter of time until readers find out what really happened.

As the issue progresses, Barbara tells her father it's time to "stretch her legs" (we all see what you did there, Gail Simone), and move out on her own. This side of Barbara as a young woman that is so motivated to do what she feels is right for her and to take risks is a side I also really appreciated in Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon's Batgirl: Year One, and while the circumstances differ, this book evokes a lot of the tones of that title, as Babs uses her dad's resources to start up her burgeoning career as a crime fighter. This re-invention of Barbara finds an apartment, and a roommate named Alysia — who right off the bat comes across as an affable young woman with the potential to either join or oppose Barbara's causes, as she introduces herself as a bit of an activist -- a "kinda an activist" that graffitis "Fight the Power" on her living room wall. Simone did an excellent job writing Barbara's character in Birds of Prey, and has a talent for writing realistically about group of women that function, and oft dysfunction, as cohorts and friends. In these few pages, the dynamic between the Alysia character and Barbara is clearly evident and I hope it is something that is used in future issues. Unfortunately while I really enjoyed the playful nature of their interaction, the art in these scenes is not as strong as the action sequences. Alysia's appearance is downright inconsistent and lacks the expression of other characters, furthered by the choice to have her in sunglasses for several panels. The lack of interest in these panels seems even more evident when compared to the attention to detail through the rest of the book.

This issue tells us very little of Barbara, aside from her former injury. We don't know how she initially became Batgirl, we don't know what happened during those three years after being shot, we don't know what she does today aside from fighting crime at night. As a Batgirl fan, I want to keep reading to find out the answers to my questions, but I do wonder how someone completely unfamiliar with the character feels about this book. Is there enough there to endear her to a new reader? Or does it come across more as an action packed book lacking in character development? Also, and this is a smaller gripe, but am I the only one who felt like Simone's dialogue was clunky at times to the point I found myself giggling every time a character repeated themselves? Obviously, time will tell — but I do hope it doesn't lose readers along the way that feel like there's nothing to buy into aside from a girl who has recovered from her disability. There's so much more to the Barbara Gordon character than her physical ability, or lack thereof, but there's very little of that evident in this debut issue. Batgirl is back, but this doesn't follow in the tradition of the "million dollar debut" she's been honored with in the past.

 

Thunderbolts #163

Written by Jeff Parker

Art by Kev Walker and Frank Martin, Jr.

Lettering by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Click here for preview

While the cover of this issue proudly heralds this as the first "of a new era," that's more of a coy spoiler than a notice of a massive shift in Jeff Parker's run on Thunderbolts. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing — consistency at this level is always tough to maintain — there is a part of me that feels that this ragtag team of miscreants are starting to get into a little bit of a rut.

Of course, that's not going to stop Parker and Kev Walker from trying. Walker, to his credit, continues to stretch himself in every issue — just the first page of this book, where Luke Cage's face contorts in anger as he stares at the blank space where Thunderbolts HQ used to stand, is a great showcase for expressiveness and even a sense of humor. Yet Walker is also good at tearing the roof off with his visuals, particularly with Satana, whose big criminal record is that she steals every scene she's in — watching her transform into a demon and strafe a Nazi platoon with hellfire is both terrifying and totally badass, particularly with the sharpness of her silhouette. The other thing about the art here, I have to give the man some credit, is colorist Frank Martin, Jr., who manages to both wash out the artwork with an off-kilter yellow while still imbuing every page with a huge level of energy.

And don't get me wrong here, Parker certainly gives his crew some things to do here — as I mentioned earlier, yep, there's some good old-fashioned Nazi fightin' up in this business, and while it doesn't quite scratch much beneath the surface of who the characters are, it's a good enough set piece for letting Walker really stretch his legs. There is a great moment, however, where Parker explains the shifting loyalties and motivations behind the team throughout its history, but that falls by the wayside for the general high concept, which feels a little bit hokey and doesn't quite add much to the previous Fear Itself-based stories.

Perhaps that's a bit too hard – I guess what I'm saying here is, Parker's done a great job of giving the team bad guys to hit, and some grin-worthy moments of camaraderie. At this point, though, I kind of want more. What's Parker trying to say here with this storyline? What more can we learn about any of these characters? How can we make this series really a must-read? That's the big question, and it's not one I ask without acknowledging the work this team's already put in. This book is good, but Parker and Walker have the chops to really make it great. Why not make this issue the start of a brand new era?

 

Action Comics #1

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Rags Morales, Rick Bryant, and Brad Anderson

Letters by Patrick Brosseau

Published by DC Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

If DC Comics really wants people to get excited about their characters, then they need a lot more books like Action Comics #1.  I'm honestly a little shocked that this was not the flagship launch title after "Flashpoint."  It seems like it would be only natural to reintroduce their new line with the comic that started it all, and considering how much better this book is than "Justice League," it's sort of baffling.  Also baffling is how, almost against the odds, this book seems progressive, modern, and contemporary when the bulk of DC's relaunch seems to be spiraling desperately towards the old, bad days of the '90's.  Here, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales craft a new Superman mythology for the 21st century by dialing all the way back to the original Action Comics #1 from 1938, and proving that sometimes, less is definitely more.

The opening sequence of this book, wherein Superman dangles a corrupt businessman from a ledge, sets the stage for a Superman that isn't quite the Man of Steel we've known for the last 30 years or so.  He's more brash, more rebellious, and much more inclined towards the common man.  That's not to say he's a wisecracking, sarcastic Spider-Man type; rather he's much less willing to put up with the kind of hindrances that come with dealing with corrupt cops, shifty politicians, and those that prey on the weak.  He's less about "law and order," and more about "truth and justice," and what we're seeing here is that, in Metropolis, those ideals rarely fall in line.  This feels like the kind of attitude that J. Michael Straczynski was attempting to foster in his "Grounded" storyline, but whereas that Superman came off as arrogant and condescending, this Superman comes off more as a folk hero, rallying the people against big brother, and the machinations of a corrupt infrastructure.  He's not "slumming it" with the people of Metropolis, he's one of them.

To that end, Morrison and Morales make some very wise choices, both thematically, and artistically.  Clark Kent is no longer simply a reporter, he's now an investigative journalist, publishing social justice stories that expose mob-related crimes, slumlords, and others who prey upon the disenfranchised of Metropolis.  He's doing the same work he does in his alter ego, but in this guise he works through the system, not around it.  It's a choice that shows why Clark Kent became Superman; why he uses his powers to protect those around him, rather than take advantage of them.  It's simply who he is, and he'd be doing the same thing whether or not he was bulletproof.  I'm not sure how involved Morales was with the design of the "casual Superman," but given Morrison's previous track record, I'd say that it was more his design than Morales's.  Either way it works, using the trademark "Li'l Abner" combo of patched up high-waters and work boots to show that he's just a regular Joe, a man of the people with the same problems as everyone else, and the advantage of having a way to deal with them.  The books three major action set pieces — the flee from the police, the run in with the tank, and the runaway train — are also callbacks to that old radio hallmark, "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!"  It's clever, it's endearing, and it's iconic; three things that Superman has lacked in recent years.

As good as this book is, it's not without a few flaws.  There are times when allusions are made to elements of past continuity, and while they aren't story beats, it can feel a little too reliant on "in-jokes," and so new and casual readers may feel a bit put out.  The only other elements that really don't quite come together are the villains, General Sam Lane, and Lex Luthor.  While their motivations are well thought out, their interaction and involvement in the story pre-suppose at least a bit of knowledge on the part of the reader, not of their previous history, but of their personalities.  There are bits of dialogue that come off as ambiguous when they should be clear and concise.  It's not a huge detriment, but in a book this good, even the minor flaws stand out.

Action Comics #1 is exactly the kind of book that reminds people why DC Comics has endured, and it's not because of their loyal fanbase.  It's because their characters are iconic, recognizable, and in the case of Superman, are the progenitors of the archetypes that all others are based on.  It's fitting then that this title takes us all the way back to the primordial mud of the character, resculpting him with the same vision as before, but eschewing some of the detritus that's built up over the years.  This is a book not just for new readers who have always wanted to love Superman, but never could, but for the Superman fanatics who just want to see their hero as he is meant to be: pure, honest, powerful and righteous.

 

Moon Knight #5

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Alex Maleev and Matthew Wilson

Lettering by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 2 out of 10

Click here for preview

Five issues into the latest run of Moon Knight, and it's frustrating to see that this is really the only one of the three Marvel "Big Shots" releases that hasn't taken off the ground. Call it a flaw in concept, or call it a victim of decompression, but even with Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's names on the cover, this comic feels tired already, and it's barely even gotten started yet.

Well, then again, that's not exactly true. We've been reading this book for months, and it hasn't really gotten too far in terms of story. Marc Spector as a schizoid one-man Avengers team has begun to wear thin, both as a concept and from an execution standpoint: Brian Michael Bendis can be a pretty chatty writer when he wants to be, but giving him a book where the character just stands there and listens to the voices in his head rather than act doesn't do much to endear the character. (Particularly when it sounds like Wolverine is Oscar and Captain America is Felix from the Odd Couple, with Spider-Man sounding as if Woody Allen somehow moved next door. Seriously, why does Cap always have to sound like such a wimpy stickler?)

Artwise, Alex Maleev does get a couple of nice shots in there — particularly the crescent shape of MK's cape as he soars through the streets of Los Angeles — but those moments are fleeting, and on the whole there aren't that many moments of this story that really become memorable. The sort of Photoshopped poster-edging, particularly on Marc's all-white costume, is a bit jarring, and even just tonally, the hard shadows and cinematic vibe doesn't go well with the jokey, no-stakes kind of story that's being told here. And there's one sequence here that goes way over the top, almost a gangland-style beatdown for a moment that, well, is supposed to be a bit funny. It feels kind of like using paddles to shock a patient that's long been flatlined.

Considering how well Bendis and Maleev can do when they're on — hell, look at Daredevil for some of the best work of both their careers — it's a bit sobering to read a book like Moon Knight, which already seems desperate for an overhaul. The Los Angeles/Hollywood connection feels unnecessary (especially when set alongside Dark Wolverine, which isn't that strong to begin with), the multiple personalities are actually grating to the point of making the character inactive, and the plot isn't getting much deeper than the cops are setting their sights on the latest vigilante mucking up their paperwork. There's a lot that could be done with this character, with this concept, with this team, but in its current incarnation, Moon Knight is feeling like wasted potential.

 

Animal Man #1

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Travel Foreman, Dan Green and Lovern Kindzierski

Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher

Published by DC Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

The thing that's always been great about Animal Man is that he's a working-class hero.  He is a hero not because of destiny or fate but because that is the man he is. As Buddy Baker, he is a family man, with a wife, kids and a house out in the suburbs. That's what Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman latch onto with Animal Man #1; Buddy is man whose job is to be a superhero. At night, he still comes home to kiss his wife and to tuck his kids into bed. Lemire and Foreman know he's never going to be Superman or Batman, but there are going to be horrors and mysteries that Buddy Baker will be the only hero for

the job.

Lemire understands that Animal Man is a different kind of hero and embraces it. He shows how Buddy may be a third-string costumed hero but that there's a need for those kind of heroes in this world. Maybe Buddy is holding on to the costume and the dream of being a world-saving hero a bit long.  Maybe his greatest adventures are behind him and he just cannot see that there's a time coming when he should hang up the costume, but he does see that he still does good as Animal Man.  He still has his little victories and he still has people and fans that look up to him form inspiration.

When a grieving father takes hostages at a hospital, screaming that he wants to see his dead daughter, you don't want to send a dark knight or the last son of a dead planet into that situation.  What could they really say to a man who cannot understand that his daughter died of cancer three weeks ago?  How could they connect with that man?  Lemire starts his run on this title right away showing how he's not writing a traditional superhero with a typical rogues gallery and a typical tragic past that drives him today. Lemire's buddy is a middle-class hero in every sense of the word.

While establishing what kind of hero and what kind of man that Animal Man is, Lemire isn't going to be satisfied just showing us heroism in suburbia. This isn't going to be Animal Man versus bad mortgages or overgrown lawns. While the incident in the hospital may be all too easy for us to understand, Lemire and Foreman use that as a baseline to show what he's used to fighting so that when they introduce the real threats that Animal Man will face, we feel as out of our element as Buddy does.

Lemire gives Foreman startling images and symbolic dreams to draw, and Foreman makes them the creepiest images in quite sometime. It is one thing to write "Blood flows out of Animal Man's eyes" but it is another greater thing to show it with the clarity and frankness that Foreman does, highlighted by Lovern Kindzierski's marvelous colors. Foreman's sharp line cuts through the pages, creating a bizarre reality for Buddy where his dreams and visions feel as real, if not more real, than his home in the suburbs.

Animal Man #1 lures us in with a story about a suburban man and the slightly odd job he leaves the house for and ends with a story of dead animals and a daughter who may be more her father's daughter than anyone thought. Lemire and Foreman throw in both the mundane home stuff and the symbolic and scary images and dreams to show that this isn't going to be your everyday superhero story.  There's something sinister boiling just beneath the surface of this comic book, and it is coming for Buddy and his family.  Lemire and Foreman show us that there can still be horror in a world of heroes.

 

Swamp Thing #1

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn

Lettering by John J. Hill

Published by DC Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette are in an interesting position with Swamp Thing #1.  In Alec Holland and the Swamp Thing, they have characters with rich and colorful histories but they also have characters that are fairly blank slates right now.  Alan Moore established that the Swamp Thing was not Alec Holland so for all that we think we know about Holland really is nothing. We know Swamp Thing but between the DC and Vertigo incarnations of the character, what is or isn't part of this Swamp Thing's story is up for grabs for Snyder and Paquette to pick and choose from and that's what they are doing. Going back to Moore's stories, they begin with Alec Holland, a man who was dead but has the memories of the Swamp Thing.

Snyder's Holland is an interesting character. He's a man who was dead but everyone thought he was alive in the form of a swamp monster. Death and rebirth has become a traditional event for super heroes. In this issue alone, Snyder has Superman try to relate his own experience with death to Holland's but Holland refuses to listen to him. Unlike the heroes who face death and come back like it was just another adventure, Holland can't go back to his normal, old life.  He tries to but instead of finding him in a lab, Superman finds him on a construction site, stacking wood.  Remembering that even those old Alan Moore comics were part of DC continuity, Snyder writes a story that builds off of that old continuity within this new DC universe. Holland remembers Abbie, the love of Swamp Thing's life, like she was the love of his own life, but he has no connection to her other than a distant memory.  He remembers everything about the Swamp Thing, but it's another life to him.

Paquette and colorist Nathan Fairbairn draw a solid book.  Everything in this issue has weight and mass to it, making it feel heavy and physical.  Snyder's story combines superheroes, nature, construction sites and archeological digs and Paquette makes each situation and each setting feel real.  Even when Snyder's story goes down the supernatural horror path, Paquette makes each event feel like it's actually happening.  These aren't events that are happening through someone's point of view or happening in their mind.  A book about a creature of dirt and insects should have a physicality to it and Paquette gives this book a firmness and a shape that you can almost touch.

The best thing that Snyder and Paquette do in this first issue is embrace most people's fondest memory of Swamp Thing, the Alan Moore/John Totleben/Rick Vietch/Steve Bissette era of the character where they showed how you could do a horror book wrapped in a world of superheroes.  They were creating Vertigo before there was a Vertigo and now Snyder and Paquette are doing the opposite, rebuilding a corner of the DC Universe where horror and supernatural stories can happen.  Swamp Thing #1 is a firm beginning to that end, taking all of the elements that Moore and company had to work with and reminding us that those elements worked as part of a larger superhero universe.

 

Justice League International #1

Written by Dan Jurgens

Art by Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan and Hi-Fi

Lettering by Travis Lanham

Published by DC Comics

Review by Edward Kaye

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

The JLI is together again... for the very first time! In the wake of the universal reset that came at the conclusion of Flashpoint the JLI that we all know and love has never existed! This has given writer Dan Jurgens the opportunity to build the team again from scratch. We now have a UN-sanctioned team, with each team member hailing from a different county. The team is headed up by Booster Gold (who is rumored to be Canadian now), and is based out of the Hall of Justice. Jurgens appears to have made the team a lot more serious in tone than the original JLI, which was made up of mostly unused characters, and was pretty comedic in tone. While this new team still has many of the classic team members on it, it also features a few heavy hitters representing major international political powers, which gives it a bit of a Checkmate influence to it. That being said, this still feels very much like the JLI, and features some great light-hearted moments and funny lines.

In this debut issue, Jurgens wastes no time assembling the team, and by the middle of the book they are already off on their first mission, which they are woefully unprepared for. Alongside the main story thread we also get a couple of interesting side-plots, and even get Batman unofficially muscling his way onto the team. It’s an issue packed full of action, but at no time does the story seem rushed, and the issue in general is very well paced. Dan Jurgens seems to be really at home with these characters, and as such writes some great dialogue and some impressive character work, particularly between Batman and Booster — with the former surprisingly being the greatest proponent of the latter being team leader.

The penciled artwork on the issue is by Aaron Lopresti, whose pencils have a very clean and open look to them that put me in mind of an animated feature. I see this as a good thing, because with the "New 52" DC are trying to bring in new readers, and a book that looks like this aught to make the comic pretty accessible to people familiar with some of these characters from the DC cartoons. Along with art arranged into regular grids and a few nice splash pages, Lopestri also uses some interesting panel layouts in the issue, which helps make the book look interesting, but at the same time it’s never difficult to follow the flow of the panels on a page. It’s also worth mentioning that many of the characters are sporting new looks. I’m sure that this will drive lots of people nuts, but there really aren’t any major changes to the costumes, and I for one quite like Booster’s re-jigged look!

The book is inked by Matt Ryan, who does a nice job of accentuating the linework, without overpowering Lopestri’s original pencils. I mentioned earlier that the book had a nice clean look to it, well Ryan’s inks help enhance this feeling by using a thin line-weight over Loprostri’s tight pencils. He also keeps shading to a minimum and mostly just fills blacks. That’s not to say that it’s an unremarkable job though, and he does add a number of nice finishes to costumes, backgrounds and faces.

The coloring on the book is attributed to Hi-Fi, which is a design company that specializes in digital coloring. It’s a decent job, if not a little too slickly produced, and uses a nice bright color palette that adds to the cartoon feel that the book has.

The clear winner for my favorite piece of art would be the full-page splash that the book closes with. The “bad guy” stands revealed as a giant robot that bursts out of the ground, tossing the characters every which way. The page has a 3D look to it that makes it feel like the robot is reaching out of the ground towards the reader, and you get a real sense of the scale of the machine and the height and distance that it has thrown each character. It would make a nice pin-up!

Justice League International #1 is a really impressive first issue that reinvents the JLI  for a new generation, while paying homage to what came before. The book has an accessible plot and clean looking artwork that should make it very welcoming to new comic readers. This is a great example of what DC is capable with this "New 52" initiative.

 

Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human #2

Written by Rob Williams

Art by P.J. Holden and Rainer Petter

Lettering by Simon Bowland

Published by Dynamite Comics

Review by Edward Kaye

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

While we may not always admit it, every comic fan loves a "versus" story. The concept is simple — take two successful franchises, figure out a way to bring the main characters from each into the same world, pit them against each other, and watch the bullets fly. The biggest problem with this type of story though is that the premise for bringing these franchises together is often pretty weak, or in some cases non-existent. This is not the case with Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human though, as writer Rob Williams has managed to come up with an inventive and highly convincing way to bring RoboCop into the world of the Terminator, and a remarkably solid way to pit the two characters against each other.

In this second issue of the story, having set the scene, Williams sends RoboCop back from the post-apocalyptic future to the present day, and gives us all what we’ve waiting for — a showdown between Murphy and a T-800 model Terminator (the Arnie version). This battle occupies a great deal of the issue, and features some well-choreographed fight scenes, which includes hand-to-hand melee, gun play, and of course, massive explosions. While the battle is definitely a key scene, Williams doesn’t let it dominate the issue, and spares time for some great character moments that deal with Murphy’s conflicting feelings towards his own identify as a man or a machine. It’s a well-paced issue, with some strong dialogue, exhilarating action and a cliffhanger ending that will leave you dying to find out what happens next!

The artwork on the issue is by P.J. Holden, whose dynamic artwork gives the comic a fabulously gritty sci-fi/action feel to it that pays tribute greatly to the look of the original movies. Holden’s pencils have an intense and energetic quality to them, and he uses slightly exaggerated dimensions on bodies and facial features, to give characters a larger than life feel. As mentioned, it’s an action packed issue, and Holden handles the fight sequences perfectly by utilizing clear visuals to keep the action easy to follow. Holden uses a different layout on nearly every page in the book, with different sized panels, panels with different shaped edges, panels within panels, and artwork that stretches out the border and into other panels. Along with a number of spectacular splash pages, this gives the book a really interesting look to it that gives the story a cinematic quality.

Holden inks his own pencils on this title, and brings his linework to life with some bold and vigorous brushwork that gives the book a stunningly powerful look. His brush strokes have a spontaneous look to them, and he utilizes a number of interesting techniques like hatching, force lines, and instead of just filling blacks solidly he fills them in a loose way that allows some of the underlying white-space to show through. The latter gives the finished artwork a very stylized look to it that makes it incredibly memorable.

The book is colored by Rainer Petter, who uses a slightly dark palette here in keeping with the gritty sci-fi look of the book. There are a lot of cyborgs and robots in the story, and therefore a lot of metallic surfaces, and Petter uses a good combination of colors to make these metals look realistic instead of just using a computer generated effect. There are a large amount of explosions and gun blasts in the comic, and so a lot of the backgrounds tend to be orange and yellow, but Petter also gets the chance to be a bit creative in places with some interesting background fills that form a nice counterpoint to the foreground.

My favorite scene is a double-page spread of the T-800 attacking the police force. Holden has the Terminator occupy the top 70 percent of the two pages, and shows the devastation he causes in four panels along the bottom of the page. The T-800 look a bit like Arnie, but not so close as to make it too obvious. He’s holding a minigun of epic proportions, and is letting loose as empty shell casing pour out of the side of the barrel.

Terminator/Robocop: Kill Human #2 is one of the best versus comics I have read in years, and is easily on a par with Miller and Simonson’s original RoboCop Versus The Terminator comic series. With a top-notch creative team that includes three 2000 AD alumni, fans of either of these franchises, or sci-fi in general, should definitely pick this one up!

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