Best Shots Comic Reviews

'Rama readers! Happy Monday. And you know what that means... more reviews! So put on your power rings and say the oath, because we're suiting up with Sinestro, in the first issue of the newly relaunched Green Lantern...


Green Lantern #1

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen and David Baron

Lettering by Sal Cipriano

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Well… this is certainly different.

Despite having Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke's names on it, this relaunched Green Lantern definitely has a divergent tone than the past year or so's worth of stories, even as barrels ahead in the post-War of the Green Lanterns status quo.

If you haven't met Hal Jordan before, well… let's just say that Green Lantern #1 is not him at his finest moment. He's been expelled from the Corps. He's traded in his will-powered ring for an endless series of sad trombones, almost as if Geoff Johns is daring people to dislike this suddenly schlubby hero. "Think I'm worshipping Hal too much?" you can almost hear him say. "Well, how's this for some flaws?" And I feel bad, because people have been asking to see Hal return to Earth, and they have been asking to see some more human-level problems. But this lightning-fast turn veers almost into Peter Parker levels of haplessness, almost into the realm of self-parody. While it definitely doesn't feel like a Geoff Johns script in that regard, I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing here.

Of course, when Johns is playing with the action, that's where this script suddenly finds its focus. It's brief, but seeing Sinestro put the ring through its paces is one of the highlights of the script, leaning on artist Doug Mahnke to really sell it. And sell it Mahnke does, with that classic composition and intense glaring in Sinestro's eyes — his exaggeration makes him a superhero artist through and through, and the heavy inks of Christian Alamy and Tom Nguyen really add some nice weight to all these ultra-built physiques. The one weak link in the chain, however, is colorist David Baron, whose work seems a little flat, especially when dealing with characters like the Green Lantern Corps, who rely on one particular color scheme.

The one thing this book doesn't do, however, is introduce characters to the status quo of the Green Lantern Corps. Sinestro, the Sinestro Corps, the ideas that the rings are powered by will and the conquering of fear, this stuff is assumed knowledge from Johns and company, which to me seems a bit counterintuitive, particularly after the Green Lantern movie failed to embed all this mythology into the greater popular culture. I recognize that this would have had fans up in arms — not to mention probably Johns himself, since he's spent years working on this epic — but part of me feels like maybe a reintroduction would have been a better use of this #1 spot, rather than simply moving onto the next arc.

That all said, what I do like about this issue is that, while it's imperfect, it's absolutely headed in the right direction. I want to see Hal rediscover his purpose without a Green Lantern ring, and in so doing, remind us why we like this headstrong, cocky fighter pilot in the first place. I want to see the sorts of issues he has getting back down to Earth, in paying rent and dealing with other humans. I want to see the sparks fly between Hal and Sinestro, particularly since it wasn't that long ago that Hal was looking down, and Sinestro was the one in a jail cell. There is definitely some potential here for both the premise and the surprisingly goofy tone to this book — this issue is far from a knockout, but maybe next issue will be.


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor

Lettering by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10


here for preview

Maybe a problem with Peter Parker as the Ultimate Spider-Man was that we knew who Peter was. From the days of Lee, Ditko and Romita, we have known Peter Parker. We've known his struggles and his victories; his enemies and his loves. We've seen him fight incredible battles and won when it looked like he was surely going to be buried by the likes of the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Venom. Whether it's a movie, a cartoon or an Ultimate comic book, we know Peter Parker, and we that means that we know his story.  And the Marvel and Brian Michael Bendis changed the story and killed the Ultimate version of Peter Parker. Without Peter Parker under the mask, the Ultimate Spider-Man's story was unknown and unwritten.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 begins mired in the past with

Norman Osborn claiming he created Spider-Man and wanting to create his own Spider-Man. Is there any character that Bendis has written as much as Norman Osborn?  The first third of this issue exists just to provide some connection between Peter Parker and the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales. It is pages of Osborn ranting and raving and it already feels old.  A #1 issue opens up with a sequence that places too much of Miles' beginning in the past and too much tied into Peter Parker's story. This scene could have been in an early issue of Ultimate Spider-Man years ago as much as if not more than it should be in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. Hopefully in those early pages of this issue, Bendis has gotten Norman Osborn out of his system.

After a brief scene where the Prowler breaks into Osborn's laboratory that provides a link between the past and the future, Bendis gets down to the business of introducing us to Miles Morales, a young boy just about to enter high school. With Miles, Bendis has a new story to tell. He finally has the promise of the Ultimate line fulfilled in that he can tell stories that he couldn't tell with the Peter Parker we know.  There are similarities between Miles and Peter but they are not the same character.  The most intriguing similarity is Miles' relation with his uncle Aaron who seems as far from Uncle Ben as possible.  With Aaron in the picture, Miles' family picture looks far different from Peter's, showing us that heroes can come from all different kinds of backgrounds.

And also like Peter's first Ultimate Spider-Man issue, there is no real sign of Spider-Man or a costume in Miles' first issue, but that ends up being a strength because it gives us time to get to know Miles.  There have been a lot of complaints lately that too many of Bendis' comics are just talking heads, expressing their feelings and thoughts more than showing the powers that they have, and that's a justifiable problem with some of his writing.  In Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, all of the talking and all of the dialogue serve the characters, letting us into their lives to get to know them. Even without a costume or seeing Spider-Man in this issue, Bendis creates a family drama that would be interesting even if Miles didn't get powers or ever put on a costume.

Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor's art snaps, crackles and pops. Pichelli's clear artwork meshes perfectly with Bendis' script to show just what kind of boy Miles is.  She manages to capture his joy at being with his uncle and his inability to understand why he should be happy when his own happiness means disappointment for other kids.  She is as much responsible for Miles' character as Bendis is.  She creates a real world for Miles with real places and real fashion. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 may just be the most fashionable comic as she puts her characters in real clothes that these characters would actually wear.  It's just another way that this book doesn't need powers or costumes.  Ponsor adds the light and energy to Pichelli's drawings, giving the characters a glow and presence.  His ever-increasingly recognizable hues make this comic book vibrate underneath Pichelli's grounded artwork.

Now that we've met Miles and his family, we have to wait for his "With

great power comes great responsibility" moment.  Even without Peter Parker, this is still a Spider-Man comic book, and there are things that are needed for that.  The powers and the costume are secondary to the lessons and purposes of Spider-Man and that's what this book still needs.  Peter was Peter, Miles is Miles, but Spider-Man has to be Spider-Man, no matter who is wearing the costume.  With Miles, Bendis and Pichelli have new stories to tell and new characters to explore, and you can see the new energy in this book.  With everything else that is going on in comic books right now, you can point to Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 as the right way to relaunch a comic book.


Red Lanterns #1

Written by Peter Milligan

Art by Ed Benes, Rob Hunter and Nathan Eyring

Lettering by Carlos M. Magual

Published by DC Comics

Review by Edward Kaye

‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

When I heard that DC was planning a Red Lanterns series for the “New 52” relaunch, I was quite hesitant to try it out, because I’ve recently become a bit disillusioned with the Green Lantern franchise. GL used to be my favorite superhero, but the last few years of massive event after massive event, the multi-colored corps, and the rampant retconning has kind of put me off the franchise. So DC putting out a fourth monthly title, featuring one of the new corps didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm. Nevertheless, I thought I would take the gamble because Peter Milligan is writing the book, and he’s never let me down before.

Well, I’m glad to say this gamble paid off! Milligan had me hooked after the first scenes, with a Red Lantern cat (Dex-Starr) bursting into a ship full of alien hunters and causing massive carnage. Things turn sour and Atrocitus turns up and asks, “What are you doing to my cat?” The ridiculousness of this line made me laugh out loud! Following this fun open sequence, much of the issue is spent bringing readers up to speed on recent history. Milligan then sets the scene for things to come by changing Atrocitus’ mission from being a personal vendetta to one of vengeance against all the guilty in the Universe - making him like a non-religious version of The Spectre. It’s an interesting direction for the series, and definitely has some promise.

The story is relatively new reader friendly, but because DC decided not to reboot GL continuity there is quite a bit of history for the uninitiated to get their heads around. Though I think that Milligan does a good job of summarizing the salient points, without making it seem like you need to pick up a ton of trades. There is only a little dialogue in the issue, and most of the story is narrated through Atrocitus’ inner monologue. This can often lead to exposition, and decompression of the story, but I think that Milligan pulls it off nicely, and the issue is paced remarkably well - even managing to fit in a few scenes on Earth setting things up for the next issue.

The penciled artwork on this issue is by Ed Benes whose pencils here are typified by incredibly intricate linework. Stylistically, it’s very much modern superhero artwork, of the type featured on other “Lantern” books, by artists like  Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke, and more. That is to say that every character has bulging biceps and rippling pectorals - heck, even Dex-Starr seems to have abs. In addition, the women are scantily clad, and improbably curvaceous. If you are a fan of this style of art, then you’ll love it, but if not, you’ll probably despise it. I don’t mind the style, and think it suits action-oriented books like this quite well.

The inked artwork on the book is by Rob Hunter, whose detailed inks fit Benes’ pencils perfectly. Every fold in clothing, every facial line, every tiny nuance is painstakingly enhanced by the inks. Though without seeing the original pencils, it’s hard to say how much artistic license Hunter was given, or whether Benes’ pencils were so tight as to dictate the inks. Hunter uses a relatively thick line weight to give the book a feeling of darkness, which is needed on a story about hate and vengeance.

Being a “Lantern” book it’s hard to avoid the comic looking very bright and colorful, but Nathan Eyring makes some good color choices here to maintain the gloominess needed for such a grim story. Being a Red Lantern story there is a large amount of blood involved, and the blood coloring used is quite nice, giving it relatively realistic look.

My favorite piece of artwork is a double-page spread showing Dex-Starr floating through space towards the hunters’ vessel. The whole idea of a super-powered cat is pretty silly, but the team plays it totally straight, making him look incredibly menacing, with evil looking eyes, and blood flowing out of the sides of his mouth. The icing on the cake is the red ring he’s wearing on his tale. I think new readers will get a real kick out of that!

Red Lanterns #1 is an interesting addition to the “New 52” line-up. I was hesitant to try it out, but was won over with an intriguing premise, some great storytelling, and some nice superhero artwork. Essential for “Lantern Corps” fans!

FEAR ITSELF Q&A w/ Fraction & Brevoort
FEAR ITSELF Q&A w/ Fraction & Brevoort

Fear Itself #6

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger and Laura Martin

Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

"Wait, that book is still coming out?"

That was the reaction I got when I told a friend of mine I was going to be reviewing Fear Itself #6, a series that has been all but flat-lined by decompression and a lack of narrative focus. Packed to the gills with superheroes and guest-stars, this is a fight comic without a fight in it — it may look decent, but there's ultimately nothing here to leave any sort of lasting impression, positive or otherwise. Stretched out beyond its expiration date, Fear Itself is still coming out, but you aren't missing much here.

I think Matt Fraction is a great writer, but if he has any one weakness that he's developed over the last year or so, is that his stories have a tendency to jog in place, running around in circles over one or two plot points rather than moving full steam ahead. Fear Itself may be the most egregious example yet, and this is coming after his first arc on Thor. Tony Stark? Still making weapons from last issue, which aren't ready yet. Thor? He's carried off to Asgard, where any and all tension from the last issue evaporates. Cap? He's in charge on the ground, same as he ever was.

So what makes this issue any different than any of the others? Sure, there are a handful of cool character moments, like Steve Rogers shouting at someone way about his weight class, but seriously? All of Earth's Mightiest Heroes together, and you can't find some way to make them throw a punch, let alone work together as a team? Really, the only plot progression is something you could see in Invincible Iron Man, so this sort of "clip show" structure is accessible, but at the cost of it being extremely shallow and predictable in its overdigestion.

In terms of the art, Stuart Immonen still looks pretty clear with his linework, but there's definitely some increasing sketchiness here, either from the original pencils or Wade Von Grawbadger's inks. A lot of distance shots are shown here, and instead of feeling particularly epic or breathtaking, it does seem a little disappointing to not get closer in on important characters like Odin and Thor, particularly as we're supposed to get a look at some very cool new designs. Laura Martin's colorwork is also a little bit off this issue, with some overreliance on particular reds and royal blues in certain scenes.

The general lack of impact, particularly in a second-to-last issue, is perhaps the most troubling part of this series. Apathy is a far worse emotion to have than fear, correct? But that's Fear Itself's problem — the stakes feel low, particularly in an event-driven era where every summer there's a worldwide problem — and Fraction's slow pacing doesn't help amplify any tension or any timetable. The heroes are going to win, and I'm sure there will be a casualty or two, but to be honest, do you really expect two Captain Americas to die in this event? This truly is the event that won't stop, but unfortunately, with this level of unchanging tension, Fear Itself is going to go out with a yawn, not a whimper.


Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #1

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Alberto Ponticelli and Jose Villarrubia

Lettering by Pat Brosseau

Published by DC Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Frankenstein may be the ultimate outsider and Jeff Lemire knows how to write outsiders. From Essex County to Superboy, Lemire has written about people who are where they are supposed to be but still always feel like they should be somewhere else. In Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, Lemire does not play up Frankenstein's outsider status but it is always there with the patchwork monster who was created centuries ago.

Actually, Lemire's Frankenstein would not consider himself an outsider. As we see in this issue, he carries himself as a civilized warrior, as comfortable quoting Milton to make a point as he is wading into battle with and against other monsters. This is simply the life he was created into.  In Frankenstein, Lemire has a new character with a classic history. With his Russian Cossack vest and his sword strapped to his back, the giant monster makes a fantastic hero as Lemire writes him as a warrior fighting for a world that he should

never have been a part of.

Between this and Animal Man, Lemire has given the new DC a great injection of horror.  The voice that Lemire has established between these two books plays off of the stunning images he gives to his artists to draw.  The incongruity of Animal Man's suburban family life with images of dead animals and bleeding eyes is absent in this book as there is no incongruity in Frankenstein. Thanks to his origins, he's as brutal and monstrous as the evils he confronts. Essex County established Lemire as a great writer of the more personal losses and horrors that we actually face in life and it is great to see him take that humanity he was so excellent in showing and infuse it in stories that have actual monsters in them.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 is an appropriately ugly and brash comic.  Under J.G. Jones' slick cover, Alberto Ponticelli revels in the ugliness of Frankenstein's world. He takes it so far that his art makes the book more enjoyable because it looks so deformed and rough. His artwork is exciting to see because he throws so many details into each panel and page that sucks you into Frankenstein's world. Whether it's the science fiction headquarters of S.H.A.D.E. or the rustic Washington town besieged by monsters, Ponticelli shows that it is not a pretty world that creates or needs a hero like Frankenstein.

Lemire and Ponticelli are defining what a superhero monster comic should be in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 as they create a book of contradictions. A monster quotes classical English poets to prove his point. The hero is a noble monster. The creature created by a madman and science fights beside supernatural creatures. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 follows in the footsteps of Mary Shelly and Grant Morrison as Lemire and Ponticelli tell the story of an inhuman man fighting in an unreal world.


Resurrection Man #1

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Art by Fernado Dagnino and Santi Arcas

Lettering by Rob Leigh

Published by DC Comics

Review by Edward Kaye

‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Resurrection Man was created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA) in 1997, and starred in his own series for 27 issues until 1999. The protagonist Mitch Shelley has powers quite different from the average superhero, in that he is immortal but still able to be killed, and every time he is killed, he resurrects, possessing a new power. After the series concluded, Resurrection Man has only made a few brief cameos in DCU titles, but now 11 year later DC have decided to give the character a fresh start, and have included him in the “New 52” line-up!

DnA open this new series by forgoing the obligatory origin story and jumping straight into the action. We join the story as Mitch resurrects on a gurney in a morgue, with no explanation how he got there, or how he came back to life. It’s an intriguing way to kick the series off, and the lack of explanation gives the book a sense of mystery. I know from interviews that DnA have rejigged the character’s origin, and filled it full of twists and turns, so it should be interesting for readers both new and old to uncover this mystery as the story progresses. The mysteries don’t stop there though, as it seems that Mitch is being pursued by agents of both heaven and hell, for purposes as yet unknown.

DnA tell the story through a combination of strong dialogue and inner monologue, both of which serve to move the story along, while informing us about the character. I particularly like the lyrical hook they use after Mitch first resurrects, where due to his new electrical powers he can taste metal every time he is in close proximity to it, and continually identifies to source of of the taste in his monologue. Several pages of the issue are taken up by a thrilling high altitude action scene, featuring well choreographed fighting and some crazy combat on top of a plane. But this isn’t allowed to dominate the story, and is balanced out with fantastic character development and plot building.

The artwork on the book has a classic ‘Vertigo’ look to it, which wouldn’t feel out of place on a comic like Preacher, or Hellblazer, i.e. it’s not your typical superhero comic artwork. This is thanks in part to Fernado Dagnino’s detailed linework, which gives the story a sense of gritty realism. His characters are drawn with natural body proportions, emotive facial expressions, and lots of minutia like individual hairstyles, clothing, and accessories - it’s great attention to detail and sets the artwork apart from the cookie cutter approach to superheroes. I think this style is great choice for this book, because it’s not a typical superhero book, and the main character doesn’t fly around saving the day in a colorful costume. In this issue Mitch display two different superpowers - electrical powers and the ability to become liquid -  and Dagnino does a wonderful job rendering these effects in a realistic way, without resorting to a computer generated effect.

Dagnino inks his own pencils on this title, and in keeping with the ‘Vertigo’ feel, he inks the book quite heavily, with lots of shading, hatching, force lines, and intricate finishes such as bodily hair, facial contour lines, and much more. It’s a really nice job, but my one comment would be that some faces have too many lines and shadows on them, giving them a bit of a muddy look.

Santi Arcas is the colorist on the book, and utilizes a slightly subdued palette here that works in conjunction with the inked artwork to bring to life a world of superheroes quite different from that seen in many other titles.

My favorite art from the book is the one-page splash where Mitch first resurrects. Mitch rises up from the gurney in soul searing agony, as thin tendrils of lightning pour out of his body and wreak havoc upon the room around him. It’s a painstakingly detailed piece of artwork, and has a feeling of Frankenstein’s monster about it.

Resurrection Man #1 is a triumphant return for a classic 90s DC character. This is not your typical superhero book, and is all the richer for it. One of the best “New 52” titles I’ve read yet!


Fear Itself: Monkey King #1

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov

Art by Juan Doe and Wil Quintana

Lettering by Dave Lanphear

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Shanna VanVolt

'Rama Review: 2 out of 10

Click here for preview

There are ways to respectfully portray ancient wisdom in a modern context, and then there is Joshua Hale Fialkov’s Fear Itself: Monkey King #1. Matt Fraction’s Immortal Iron Fist series from 2006-2009 set a high bar for gracefully inserting Eastern mythology into a Western context. This first issue not only misses that bar, but seems clotheslined by it. Even with serviceable art and a workable premise, Fialkov’s inane dialogue knocks this book flat on its monkey butt.

Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, is no stranger to modern retelling. Journey to the West, a Chinese text from the Ming Dynasty, has so many adaptations of the Monkey King that the list merits its own separate Wikipedia page. Some of these renditions have tapped into the essential relatable struggles of the character: stubborn faith in his haughty lustful ego erodes when Buddha imprisons Sun Wukong, who eventually becomes a loyal protector of a monk carrying ancient religious scrolls. Monkey King #1 misses that depth, and feels more like a capitalization on a popular character than an ode or exposition on why it is popular.

Fialkov’s Monkey King comes off as a one note character. Perhaps the most telling exchange of this book is between the ancient Sun Wukong and his soon-to-be modern incarnate: “You who scoffs at the legacy of the real Sun Wukong and steals his rod!” “Heh, rod.” returns the new Monkey King who echoes more stupidity than stubbornness for the majority of the book.  Sun Wukong was never really depicted as likeable, but Fialkov makes him so jerky and jokey as to be completely unrelatable.

The tone of Juan Doe’s art suits the story, but his character designs and action scenes also appear ignorant of the subject matter. Inexplicably, the modern title character sports a Mongolian warrior hairstyle, and has very little resemblance to a primate. Also, the cunning agility that is assumed by the boastful dialogue comes off clunky in the artistic arena. Doe seems to struggle with fight scenes, creating brilliant vistas and inspired angles, but digressing into confusion when action arises. That said, his overall style is a good mixture of East and West, almost like Sonny Liew’s Malinky Robot combined with a Marvel house artist’s clarity and simplicity. If his art is loosened up and set free, Doe could serve as some redemption to the shaky dialogue displayed so far.

What you cannot fault this book for is movement. Fialkov, perhaps in a nod to the epic foundations of Sun Wukong, divides the 20 page book into three “chapters.” It does make for a lot of story in not so many pages. However, even with a fall into a very deep cave, the narrative still feels superficial and perfunctory.

The Monkey King is a character cherished by a great many people, and very entrenched in Chinese society.  Fear Itself: Monkey King #1 offers a good entrance into the greater Marvel narrative: the new Sun Wukong emerges from a realm of hell as the hammers fall and break dimensions open. That could be pretty cool, but that entrance is just a footnote in what Fialkov turns into an ignorant epic. Monkey King #1 takes a rich Eastern character with a repertoire that extends beyond written history and gives a poor imitation of a Western anti-hero.


Grifter #1

Written by Nathan Edmondson

Art by CAFU, Jason Gorder and Andrew Dalhouse

Lettering by Wes Abbott

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 2 out of 10

As DC Comics began unveiling its New 52 lineup, there was one team that immediately caught my attention.

It wasn't Grant Morrison and Rags Morales on Action Comics. It wasn't Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on Batman. No, it was Nathan Edmondson and CAFU on Grifter. Think about it: The guy who wrote the taut thriller Who is Jake Ellis, teamed up with the artist that made T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents one of the best looking books in the DCU. It was a sure-fire win waiting to happen.

Except that it wasn't.

And there's nobody more surprised than me that that happened. Somehow, some way, something didn't connect on Grifter. Instead of introducing us to Cole Cash and taking us into this con man's confidence, we're instead treated to a jerky, discordant ride that minimizes the strengths of two great talents.

The bulk of these issues stem from the script itself, as Edmondson focuses primarily on action and structure, rather than show us what's so charming about Grifter in the first place. And as far as this issue goes, the charm factor is nil: Grifter stumbles through the book seeming more skittish than spectacular, more fearful than fantastic, and considering the guns-blazing, five-pounds-of-awesome-in-a-two-pound-bag cover, you're kind of surprised he isn't a little bit more badass.  I recognize the appeal with jumping around in time to tell the story of how Grifter got his "Daemonite sense," but I'd rather get a sense of who he is, what his personality is like, rather than just make him reactive to everything fresh out of the gate.

But at the same time, CAFU has his fair share of issues. Namely... this isn't the art style to tell this particular story. CAFU's artwork is clean, bright, inviting, animated — telling a story about fear, claustrophobia, even paranoia. He's not helped with a new inker — instead of usual wingman Bit giving CAFU some roughness and shadow and depth, inker Jason Gorder seems more brittle, more literal with the inks, not providing any sort of darkness or shadow to play up the menace here. Combine all this with a lack of any big moments to really sell this character — and yeah, I'm even counting the lead jumping out of a plane — and you have yourself a surprising case of the talent tripping each other up rather than playing to each others' strengths.

The unspoken dictum for the New 52 has been to bring DC's impressive stable of characters back to basics, to make them accessible and compelling for a new generation of readers. Grifter needed that more than most, as a '90s-era antihero from the largely overlooked Wildstorm universe. And in that regard, Edmondson and CAFU, much to my surprise, didn't deliver. I can't say the book offended me, but beyond that, it didn't really do much else for me. If we figure out who Cole is, maybe they can turn it around — but either way, what a missed opportunity. After all, it's so rare to get a second chance to make a good first impression.

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