Best Shots Rapid: ACTION COMICS, UNCANNY X-FORCE, More
Greetings, 'Rama Readers! Let's cut to the quick this week, with some Rapid-Fire Reviews from the Best Shots Team! Erika is going to kick off today's excitement, with a time-traveling adventure with the Man of Steel in Action Comics...Click here for a preview): I’ll admit that I had to read Action Comics #6 twice to (sort of) understand the story because, well, tesseract space was not covered in my high school math or science courses. Unfortunately, the second reading was just as much of a slog as the first. The things I've enjoyed most about Action Comics are largely absent, including the scrappy, denim-wearing Clark Kent I’ve grown to love. Instead, writer Grant Morrison serves up a confusing tale starring a slightly older Superman and the Legion of Superheroes. As Superman and the Legion work furiously to save the rocket that brought infant Kal-El to Earth, the Anti-Superman Army has hatched an admittedly innovative plan to kill him with Kryptonite. Sounds exciting, but it felt like an assignment. The thing I appreciate about Morrison is that he never dumbs it down but goes right for the teleport rifles and psychic keys. But wasn’t the point of the DC relaunch to start fresh and make these comics more accessible to newer readers? Here, you practically need footnotes to follow along. This story in no way resembles the Action Comics I signed up to read, and I hope this isn’t indicative of what's to come. Andy Kubert's classic, chiseled art is winning, though it doesn't match the weird, sci-fi tone of the story. However, the backup story written by Sholly Fisch is satisfying and wonderfully simple. There are no grand, fate-of-the-world themes, just a touching look at Clark’s last day on the Kent family farm. If you find yourself welling up at the end, rest assured that you’re not alone. Click here for preview): Rick Remender keeps on bringing the weird, violent, and intense in Uncanny X-Force #21. The Age of Apocolypse's Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Deadpool are fast becoming casualties in the war raging on Otherworld, Fantomex’s fate is in Psylocke’s hands, and the Goat Demon is wrecking some serious shop on Otherworld. Remender’s cavalier writing packs a lot of momentum, a ton of story, and a few surprises into issue #21. As always, the characters are well-defined with unforgettable moments and sharp dialogue. The artist duties for the Otherworld arc have fallen to Greg Tocchini. I have mixed feelings about Tocchini’s style. On one hand, he displays the chaos and intensity of the story, but on the other, his sketchy stylization leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to finer detail. However, some interesting perspectives make up for the lack of detail in the panels. As always, major kudos go to Dean White for killing it softly with the colors. And Cory Petit’s sharp, angular lettering on the Goat Demon adds just the right "otherworldly" vibe. Uncanny X-Force has been known to have some pretty epic cover art, and I’d say Leinil Francis Yu’s cover would fall right on into that category. It is striking and an excellent lead-in to the story. This train doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. Uncanny X-Force #21 is another great issue. Click here for a preview): I'll be honest — I'm still conflicted about Animal Man #6. I kind of want to give it a zero; I kind of want to give it a 10. Five, it is. On the one hand, artist John Paul Leon brings a real sureness and craftsmanship to the visuals, as we get to watch Buddy Baker's indie film "Tights." Those visuals look fantastic, having that sort of openness and clarity that evokes hints of Chris Samnee or Ryan Sook. The problem is... this whole issue is us watching Buddy Baker's indie film "Tights." It's really bittersweet, as there seems to more sureness in the central concept for this story-within-a-story than there is in the rapidly expanding Animal Man mythology as a whole. This issue has humanity and a central conflict, but it's not even for our hero or his family. You can argue that Jeff Lemire is constructing a metaphor for Buddy's rebellious son Cliff, but it's a bit out of left field. It's the definition of filler, but what happens when you'd prefer a story of a has-been trying to make good rather than a more visceral menagerie of zombie animals? The sad thing is, Animal Man #6 may be the best executed issue of the run, but it's also easily the most disappointing. Click here for a preview): Although the art and storytelling were a bit more dynamic, it’s obvious that the Emerald Archer is just biding his time until the new creative team arrives in issue #7. This issue sees the end of the vague arc between creative teams that featured monsters men, robots and quip-machine Oliver Queen. Although the supporting characters around Green Arrow still seem awkward and tacked-on, this issue utilized them better by actually keeping them in the background and making them seem a bit more personable. The enemies were also given another layer, and this just raised the issue altogether. Although the motivation for why Queen was being targeted by these stereotypes wasn’t clear, at least they became a bit more interesting in this issue. Ignacio Calero provided interiors for the end of this story arc and it was a nice change of pace. His is a still that is heavy with lines and hashmarks but he does provide some interesting angles for Green Arrow's bows and arrows that keep the eye moving and the narrative exciting. The throwdown at the end of the issue was actually fun to read with and flowed nicely. Although the story seems thrown together, this is better than the previous issues of this arc and not all together terrible to read. Green Arrow seems to be enjoying himself, keeping a beer on his utility belt like a superhero Randy Quaid at the end of the issue. I think that’s the point of this issue, too. Click here for a preview): The new storyline from Tony Daniel's Detective Comics is beginning to really ramp up. Although the past two covers feature the Dark Knight and the Penguin, the two have little to do with one another in the actual story. Instead, it focuses more on the criminals surrounding the Penguin, which is far more interesting than the Caped Crusader punching the little guy. Proving to only be slightly less gristly than the previous arc, this one is focusing more on the crime element surround the opening of the Penguin’s new nightclub and casino. Maybe it’s just the presence of the Penguin on the page, but Daniel’s writing and artwork is starting to remind me more and more of the Tim Burton Batman films, with their slimy, damp underground and tendency to lean more towards the macabre. Sometimes the dialogue is lacking, especially with the Penguin’s “Wah!” at the end of statements. However, this still isn’t enough to stall the book or become distracting. The art here, by Daniel and inks by Sandu Florea, echoes this perfectly. It doesn’t ape the grimy world of those films but is instead influenced by it with its hazardous Gotham underbelly paired with the silver screen glitz of the new Iceberg Casino. The designs are still very much in the New 52 world in that it’s a more modern take on costumes and cinematic coloring style by Tomeu Morey. The stories are building very naturally with each obstacle pulling Batman in further and further and, as the audience, we are right behind him. Click here for a preview): I love this stupid book. There, I said it. Si Spurrier is clearly having a ball in his comedic little corner of the X-Men universe, and it's infectious. Enter the mutant savants of science — the X-Club. It's a kooky, funny, sometimes even subversive place, as the team tries to work out Atlantean plagues, word-vomiting telepathic starfish, killer AIs and corrupt homicidal geneticists. Spurrier's jokes are largely on the mark, particularly for Dr. Nemesis, who is compelled to shout out every stupid thing that comes into his head ("Science HOOOOOO" is good; "Hammer time" reference is trying too hard). Paul Davidson reminds me a lot of Paul Gulacy, with his emotive, cinematic faces, but Davidson is a real gem in that he's freaking funny, to boot — I love the dumbfounded expressions that Dr. Rao has when she receives an unexpected overture, or Madison Jeffries's sheepish look when he discovers where his passions truly lie. The only downside for this book is that it may be a little challenging to jump into right now, with all the various plotlines running around — but it is worth it. The geeks are inheriting the Earth, and when they do, the X-Club is one place where you definitely want admission. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!