Greetings, 'Rama Readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, coming to you with the latest crop of Best Shots reviews! Your loyal team of reviewers have been checking out tons of books this week, and we've got some crack shot critiques for your reading pleasure. So let's kick off today's column with Lan Pitts, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Batman...
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
If there's one thing that I've taken away from Snyder's run so far, is that he's created a new type of opposition for Batman to fight. This villain isn't crazy like the Joker, or has some sort of theme and full of camp. No, what Snyder has done here is essentially turned Gotham City against Batman. The Court of Owls have their dug their metaphorical talons into the heart and veins of the city, giving Batman very little places to hide and formulate his next move.
The start of the issue is probably the strongest we've seen yet, with an owl catching the bat that gave Bruce his identity, and devouring it whole. Simply put, these Owls aren't here to mess around. Snyder continues to deepen the Court's lineage to Gotham, and by revealing that Nightwing himself could have been in their service, it just shows how long they've really been around. Though, I do think it's a little too convenient of Dick's should-be position in the Court, the fact that it hits that close to home for Bruce really gets the message across. Here also, we see that the Court has really messed with Bruce's already torn psyche. The mere sight of a man in the Owl armor gives him a panic attack. We haven't seen Batman this vulnerable in quite sometime. The last page confirms that the owls are not just a cult, but a civilization ready to prey on the city and possibly the world.
Greg Capullo has really been knocking it out these past few issues, but here I don't find the inks as consistent. Jonathan Glapion has done a great job adding weight to Capullo's pencils. Not overshadowing the pages and panels, and giving room for the colors. I think the facial constructs are a bit off, but nothing horrific that knocks you out of the story. The rest of the visuals move with a certain level of energy that keep your eyes peeled to the pages and it really soars. The great lengths of detail that go into each brick of the sewer or the feathering on the owl are just really tight.
Batman #7 is a strong enough issue that showcases properly the Court as a legitimate threat without repeating what's already been said. It's the perfect calm before the storm With the Bat-verse leading DC's first major cross-over, it's going to be a wild ride and I'm holding on the best way I can.
Amazing Spider-Man #682
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin, Jr.
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
It's kind of hard finding new ways to praise Dan Slott's run on Amazing Spider-Man. While it's certainly true that his already substantial run has had a few ups and downs, it's also very true that the best of his work has amounted to some of the best Spider-Man stories of all time. With "Ends of the Earth," Dan Slott has turned his attention to the newest iteration of the Sinister Six, a collective of Spider-Man's arch-foes usually lead by Dr. Octopus. While this isn't the first time in recent years that Doc Ock has launched a campaign of twisted revenge against Spidey, and while the Sinister Six have appeared several times throughout the Marvel Universe in Slott's run, this is the beginning of the end-game for numerous plot threads that have been hanging around the series for years now, and promises to be a major confrontation between Spider-Man and his deadly foes. Aided by the always improving Stefano Caselli, Slott aims high with this issue, both as a jumping on point, and as a payoff for longtime readers.
"Ends of the Earth" marks what is probably Dr. Octopus's most wide reaching plot yet, as the dying villain uses advanced technology to briefly raise the temperature of the Earth, leaving millions of people over-exposed just long enough to explain that he can use the same technology to reverse the effects of global warming, if the people of Earth will accept his help. As the attitude of the people in Spidey's hometown of New York quickly begin accepting Dr. Octopus's terms, only Spider-Man is left to wonder what evil twist Doc Ock has up his sleeve. It's a great introduction for readers who always wanted to love Spider-Man, but either didn't know how to jump in to the story, or were left cold by the twisting, turning nature of his status quo. Slott breezily moves through Spidey's world, setting up and introducing all the major members of Spidey's supporting cast, and the concepts that make up his world, such as his job at Horizon Labs, and its founder, Max Modell's knowledge of Peter Parker's connection to Spider-Man.
One of the great things about comics as an ongoing medium is watching the evolution not just of the characters, but of the creators involved. To that end, Stefano Caselli's work on this issue is definitely the best Spider-Man work he's done, if not the best of his career. Perhaps it's an effect of having more lead time moving in to this story, but Caselli's attention to detail, and his energetic take on both Spider-Man and Peter Parker are miles ahead of the last time he threw in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man. While he's slowly moving away from the cartoonish look his early work had, his manga influence is still apparent in his characters, as they ooze personality and expression without seeming unreal or distorted. Caselli inks his own work this issue, which is a markedly good move, as it allows him to capture the nuance of his lines perfectly, without relying on someone else to find the intent. Frank Martin, Jr.'s colors are gorgeous, working with, and taking advantage of Caselli's lines to give the book an almost painted quality with no loss of clarity and movement.
With this issue, Dan Slott has set the bar for "Ends of the Earth" almost as high as it can go for the start of a major story, providing an accessible entry point and an immediately relatable hook for new readers, and setting up the dividends of several years of stories for the people who have been along for the ride. One of the things that makes Spider-Man so distinctive are his villains, and it's always welcome to see his classic enemies being used in new ways. There are still plenty of issues left for "Ends of the Earth," after all, this is only the first part of the story, but if they are all as good as this issue was, we may be looking at the pinnacle of Slott's run.
Justice League #7
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gene Ha, Art Lyon,
Lettering by Patrick Brosseru
Published by DC Comics
Review by Jake Baumgart
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Although not without its moments, Justice League #7 is far from being the spine of the New 52 relaunch at DC Comics. Geoff Johns, who has a reputation of excelling at team books like Teen Titans and JSA, chooses not to focus on the titular team and instead on Wonder Woman beau and government liaison Steve Trevor. Gene Ha is the guest artist this month taking over artwork duties from Jim Lee. Although it’s always good to see Ha on a book, the tone his artwork brings seems really out of step with where the book is at with lots of dark, thick lines and heavy inking. Although the Shazam backup story was a pleasant bonus, Justice League #7 feels really out of place in every aspect.
If the first arc was meant to fill in some backstory for the New 52 Universe while also giving an introduction to the team, then this first issue of the new arc seems really vague and out of focus. All though the real threat seems to be hiding in the shadowing margins of Ha’s artwork, any real protagonist seems absent from the story. Sure, the team is a long way from “Super Friends” and Trevor is having a harsh time with the federal government, but is that really a strong enough conflict for a main title in the DCNU? They can only fight ill-defined monsters and aliens for so long (like Spore, in this issue). Johns does seem to have a strong idea of the characterization of each of the seven heroes. For as little as the Justice League were actually in the book, their interaction with each other was one of the more memorable aspects of the issue. The perfect example of this is when, after reconvening from battle in the rain, Green Lantern provides construct umbrellas for the team except for Batman.
Besides what felt like a very short scene of the team pounding away are Spore’s spastic mutations, the main thrust of the story was behind Trevor and his hostile relationship with the media and his government superiors. The tone of the last half of the issue felt more like an episode of “24” with Kiefer Sutherland talking to superheroes. Although it is apparent that Johns is building up Steve Trevor’s presence in title in preparation for the next arc, it did feel unnatural for a book titled “Justice League.”
Although Gene Ha is an amazing artist, it might have been a strange choice to have him fill in for Jim Lee this month. Ha and Lee’s styles are so different that it sort of disrupts the pace that Lee set before. Whereas Lee is the pinnacle of superhero style with tight, thin lines and heavy hash marks, Ha’s style lays the black ink on thick and the figures feel more solid for it. Perhaps it’s the story elements, but Ha’s style feels at home drawing monsters like Spore fighting in the rain, however, it doesn’t feel organic to the legacy of work on this team. Gene Ha’s artwork creates a darker tone that doesn’t seem to gel with Lee’s work or the idealistic Justice League in general. However, Ha does provide full pages of line work and doesn’t rely on the margins to tell the story. Pages comprised of only four panels or a half-page spread bring a large, dynamic feel to the book that is fitting for the Justice League.
This weak pairing of an artist and title would drag the book lower if it weren’t for backup story. John’s backup Shazam was everything a fan of DC’s Captain Marvel, new and old, would want from the new story. The villains like Sivana and Black Adam was a nice updated look and origin that, although true to the characters background, feels genuinely updated. Billy Batson was the lovable kid with a heart of 14-karat gold and was so sweet he was saccharine. That is, until the last few pages where Billy drops the façade and shows that he is actually a manipulative brat. The entire story feels tainted because of it and really leaves a sour taste for what was an exceptional story so far.
For the Shazam story, Gary Frank is exceptional in this issue and brings an awesome sense of realism to legacy character full of whimsy and imagination. The details he inserts into every page make the story feel more legitimate and richer. Just looking at the thin eyebrows of Dr. Sivana or the full page layout of the busy streets during the holidays surpass most of the components of this single issue. Frank really nails the boyish charm (however fleeting it is) of Billy Batson when he is trying to impress the young parents with a soft smile or innocent smirk.
Although Justice League #7 fell short this month, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to completely drop the book altogether. Consistency with the artwork and a focus on the Big Seven and their relationships could pull this issue back from the brink. The talent on this book could enough to salvage what comes after issue #7 and perhaps the Justice League can inspire some hope outside of the comic.
Kick-Ass 2 #7
Written by Mark Millar
Art by John Romita, Jr., Dean White and Tom Palmer
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by ICON
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
It was so easy to be a Kick-Ass fan at first. Mark Millar tapped into what most superhero fans dream about: what it would really be like to put on some spandex and fight some crime. At the start Dave Lizewski was likable because we could feel bad for him. Sure, he might have adventures, but at least we had our dignity. But as the plot of the first and now the second series has progressed, Lizewski has lost his humanity entirely. Millar has upped the ante with each issue, trying to squeeze the last remnants of sympathy from this story by cursing more, killing more and ultimately becoming nothing more than a sadistic parody of the Big Two concepts that he originally sought to playfully undermine.
It was always going to come to this, the big fight in the middle of Times Square pitting fake super villains versus fake superheroes in an all out bloodbath but I always thought Millar would handle it with a bit more gravitas. The dialogue is hollow and expletive-filled for expletives’ sake. It’s hard to care about Dave or his friends or Mindy or really any of them. These people despite their good intentions have done bad things. They believe they should be recognized for their “heroic deeds” and we’re supposed to be on their side, but these aren’t heroes we can really root for. Millar writes in a crowd reaction that is supposed to echo how the reader feels but it falls on deaf ears. Kick-Ass 2 has become exactly what we didn’t want. This is Jurassic Park 3. This is Indiana Jones 4. This is directed by Michael Bay and produced by fat George Lucas.
John Romita, Jr. and company still turn in the quality we’ve come to expect, though. A lot of the shock value is gone but Romita knows his way around these characters and he’s no stranger to gigantic superhero brawls. The best work in the issue comes during the Hit-Girl and Mother Russia fight. The fight is well choreographed and for the first time, Hit Girl actually seems human. But the brutality on the display at the very end is the true highlight. Romita seems to have hidden a penchant for the grotesque over the years but it’s on full display here. Dean White’s coloring is also solid but at points it seems more muted than usual. It’s unclear if that’s a conscious choice, a byproduct of the printing process or what but it what it is.
At this point in his career, Mark Millar is the quintessential Hollywood comic book writer. Almost everything that comes out of Millarworld has been optioned as a film at this point. That’s great for him but the comics are suffering. While Kick-Ass had a tongue-in-cheek charm to it, Kick-Ass 2 reads like nothing more than half-baked storyboards for the next film, filled with “cool visuals” and “edgy material” but little in the way of substance. Sadly this final issue is a mixture of blood and guts peppered with quips and catchphrases that leaves us with a smorgasbord of disappointment.
Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Brian Bannen
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Supergirl is badass. I picked up the first Supergirl issue expecting to hate it. I expected mediocrity, but instead found that I was wholly taken in by this newer version of Kal-El’s cousin, Kara. I am continuously blown away by how awesome Mike Green and Mike Johnson make Kara Zor-El, and I am definitely a Supergirl fan.
In this issue, Kara faces off with a group of genetically engineered aliens known as The World Killers. Left for dead by the leader Reign, Kara makes her way back to Earth only to discover that the World Killers are planning on destroying it. Obviously, Kara won’t let that happen. Green and Johnson have done a superb job of developing their character so that she’s gone from being guileless and wide-eyed to tactical and ruthless. By the end of the issue, I had no doubt Kara was going to do what Superman would never do: take a life. The issue ends abruptly, and I have to confess to being a bit disappointed by the conclusion. If there’s a weakness to this issue, it’s that Green and Johnson tidy up their conflict so quickly that it feels out of place next to the amount of time they spent developing it.
Kara’s fight with The World Killers takes up the majority of the comic. Of the 20 pages in the issue, sixteen of them are the fight. But since she’s fighting four people at once, Supergirl gets tossed around quite a bit. Green and Johnson, to combat this, utilize Kara’s thoughts to help keep the reader focused on her. Her determination, as well as her fear, are on full display. In Kara Zor-El, Green and Johnson have created a tenacious, engaging and heroic character.
Mahmud Asrar makes Kara look awesome. His character designs remind me of Fiona Staples’ work in Saga. Like Staples’ Alana, Asrar makes Supergirl very expressive, but also strong. Considering that Kara gets beat up for the majority of the issue, it’s hard to show that she can really handle herself. But right before Kara throws down a major beating, Asrar draws her exuding power, her head lowered, her eyes locked on her target. She looks scary and strong. And for a character that started the series naive and panicky, she’s come a long way.
Dave McCaig’s work also helps sell the visuals. He adds the right touches of shading and color to show off Kara’s sleekness. I’m wholly in love with the design of the new Supergirl. When she first appeared in the pages of Superman/Batman, I had a hard time taking her serious with the belly shirt and skirt. Here, however, she radiates power. She’s still sexy, but in a less overt way.
Supergirl is a book I look forward to reading every month. Strongly written and beautifully depicted, this is a comic that redefines Supergirl for a new generation. I’m sold on the new Kara Zor-El, and I’m sold on Mike Johnson and Mike Green. And I look forward to seeing what they have in store for Supergirl.
John Carter: The Gods of Mars #1
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Ramón Pérez and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Scott Cederlund
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Maybe it’s because in the last one hundred years we’ve learned about the planet through Mars’ Rovers and countless other scientific engagements but the planet doesn’t seem as far away or as alien as it once did. For Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 20th century, Mars was a planet that contained old civilizations, warrior aliens, strange landscapes and beautiful princesses. Burroughs' hero John Carter, an Earthman who suddenly and mysteriously finds himself on Mars, experiences Burroughs' exotic planet, cultures and inhabitants and finds love with one of those beautiful princesses before just as mysteriously finding himself exiled back to his home planet Earth. 10 years later, Carter wakes up beneath two moons and realizes one thing: "I was no longer on Earth."
Sam Humphries and Ramón Pérez adapt Burroughs' second John Carter novel, The Gods of Mars, imagining Burroughs' Mars with chivalry, love, brotherhood and colors that shouldn't exist in nature. They show that even though John Carter may be an Earthman, his home is Mars. That's where his love Dejah Thoris is and his first though is to try and find her. But Mars is a big planet and instead he finds the Martian Hell instead, a prison camp full of slaves who were only looking for Heaven. Taking Burrough's novel, Humphries shows us a fearless John Carter, one who welcomes the dangers that Mars throws at him with a rueful grin and a sword.
Burroughs and Humphries' story begins with a man who has waited for 10 years to get back the woman that he loves. This John Carter isn't some green adventurer that's finding himself in a strange land for the first time. He's had years to think about what he would do when he found his way back to his betrothed’s planet. Building on the quest for his princess, Burroughs crafted a story that's about other worlds and aliens and love. That's why the beginning of The Gods of Mars rings so true because this isn't a story about trying to get to an alien world but a story about trying to find a lost love.
While Humphries writes a story about a man's journey, Ramón Pérez and colorist Jordie Bellaire reminds us that the other side of that equation is that John Carter is on an alien world. Much like his work on the adaptation Tales of Sand, Pérez creates these layered pages where the panels rhythmically dance across the pages. A simple six-panel page has very little place in Pérez's storytelling as he visually creates time and space using the page as a starting point while his panels take on lives of their own. By staggering panels, creating insets in larger panels and even having panels run diagonally down a page, Pérez portrays a more fluid experience in comics. Rather than the rigid structure of panels arranged in a grid, separated by consistent white space, Pérez's pages become these sequences in time that you experience because you don't know where you are going next until you get there.
Bellaire gives Pérez's art it's otherworldly glow beginning on the first page as Carter wakes up surrounded by blue trees beneath orange moons. Bellaire imbues Pérez's Mars with a shimmering energy early by using bright yet unearthly colors to show that Carter is on another world. As Carter's troubles begin to take on a more human problem (prison camps and slavery), Bellaire's colors become more natural and less fantastic. The prison city becomes more brownish and full of earthy colors, bringing the high emotions of being back on Mars crashing down to troubles that seem more like those that Carter would encounter on his home world than on other planets.
In John Carter: The Gods of Mars , Sam Humphries and Ramón Pérez create a Mars that I want to dream about. The giant red planet should be dangerous and exotic, not just a ball of uninhabitable dirt that we only send mechanized rovers to. Edgar Rice Burroughs planted the seeds of imagination and I wonder what he thought his Mars really looked like? Did he imagine Pérez and Bellaire's multi-hued woods or their chiseled Alan Davis-like hero? Did he imagine the giant cages of the slave city or the sleek ships flying through the sky? What he did do was create a world that over one hundred years later would inspire books, movies and comics, trying catch one-tenth of his imagination. Humphries, Pérez and Bellaire show us what a dream of Mars looks like.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #5
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Wes Craig, Michael Choi and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
In an era of cheap comic book deaths and resurrections, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was the title that bucked the trend by tackling the hereafter head-on. Rather than have readers worry about if their heroes were going to die, Nick Spencer and company made it simply a question of when, as this government-sponsored team of damaged goods struggled to redeem themselves before their superpowered enhancements inevitably did them in. It was a simple concept, yet it was extremely effective, providing moments of strong drama and characterization for these flawed, doomed individuals.
Yet lightning can only strike the same place so many times. And as he largely removes the key ingredient to making this story rise — namely, tension — Nick Spencer takes the humanity and resonance out of this well-crafted series, letting it collapse under the weight of its own convoluted backstory of double agents and super-science gone awry.
While the past few issues were tense and dangerous, as the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents found themselves trapped in between two factions of a subterranean cool war, Spencer spends much of this issue on exposition, as we learn handler Colleen Franklin's true loyalties. If you haven't been keeping up with this series, however, you're going to be confused, as this script is extremely self-referential, especially as the story picks up again in its last few pages. But along the way, Spencer does something unexpected — and detrimental — to his storyline that ultimately takes the teeth out of the past few issues. This could have been a knock-down, drag-out reckoning, with Colleen and wisecracking double-agent Toby Henson mulling over their losses under heavy fire. Instead, we get an overly light, unbelievably bubbly aftermath that kind of smacks of "Mission Accomplished" naïveté.
While Mike Choi delivers a bright introduction that evokes the clean, angular designs of original series artist CAFU, it's Wes Craig that brings most of the goods for this issue, art-wise. Aside from the surprise return of a few characters — the duo look surprisingly old — Craig otherwise has a jagged, beautiful style that fits the dangerous, alien world that's currently in turmoil. One of Craig's major gifts is that he can portray speed like nobody's business, so watching Raven swoop in to land a punch or watching someone pull out a gun to land a killing strike, you're caught off-guard with his dynamic angles. That said, nobody's perfect, and Craig still can't quite pull off a saccharine sequence where the Subterraneans celebrate their newfound victory. Much of that is due to the fact we don't have enough setup or understanding to really empathize, but the Iraq-style visuals of statues being pulled down and couples tearfully hugging comes off as self-conscious rather than self-assured.
Nick Spencer, at his best, has a confidence in his craft not unlike Brian K. Vaughan, with truly human characters working within a broad, yet clearly defined environment. His take on Colleen and Toby, that cute, combative couple, provides plenty of evidence to his prodigious skills. That said, he also sometimes can fall victim to that urge of letting the external plot supersede his strong protagonists. Even with a visually interesting backup story by Michael Uslan and Trevor McCarthy on the psychedelic, horrifying Undersea Agent, Spencer seems to be tripping up even as the finish line is in sight. It's all too neat, too clean for this series — in a lot of ways, by even briefly opting into the revolving door of comic book deaths, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents has lost that spark that made it so unique.
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho
Lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by Millarworld
Review by Brian Bannen
‘Rama Rating: 3 out of 10
Mark Millar’s newest book is built around a group of super villains who decide they’re going to leave the United States and go someplace where they can pull off their robberies without fear of superhero reprisal. In what feels like a less violent version of Nemesis, Supercrooks is a choppy mixture of poor characterization and uneven story telling.
Mark Millar seems to approach Supercrooks as a character piece. Unlike other Millar properties, this story has very little action and is more concerned with introducing and developing its band of anti-heroes. The problem is that these people aren’t given enough detail to be interesting, and the pacing of the comic doesn’t help develop the people in it. Johnny Bolt, who doesn’t appear as the main character of the story until the second half of the comic, is the stereotype of a slick car salesman. But his introduction on the first page is weak given that most of the time is spent on the hero The Gladiator. I thought the book was about him. Johnny’s ex-girlfriend, Kasey is meant to be a reformed criminal, and based on what she says, she’s turned away from crime to find a more honest profession. How much more stereotypical can you get than a waitress at a diner? But she’s swept up in Johnny’s scheme a bit too quickly to really make the conflict work.
The other thing that bothers me about the book is its premise. Johnny wants to return to crime to help his friend and mentor, Carmine, an aging bank robber known as The Heat. Carmine got busted trying to rip off a casino, so as punishment, the owner -- a man known as The Salamander -- tells Carmine that he needs to pay a restitution of one hundred million dollars. The Salamander says this is to use Carmine “as an example to all the other little f**ks out there who think they can walk in here and take us for a ride.”
Why not just kill him and string his body around the parking lot? And they run a casino! They’ll make more money than Carmine can possible bring in. Lastly, the hundred million dollar ransom feels like a line pulled directly from an Austin Powers movie. The motivation behind the Salamander’s decision derails the seriousness of the issue.
The art of the comic doesn’t help either. Normally I love Leinil Yu’s art, but the composition looks a bit off here. The characters in frame get the most direct treatment, particularly thick outlines and intricately penciled designs. One panel in particular shows The Gladiator’s fist connecting with Johnny Bolt’s face. Yu’s attention to detail makes for a visceral image, and the tiny shards of glass and tendrils of blood show that he spent time making the panel come to life.
But most other images lack the background detail usually found in other Yu designs (like Superior for example). Some characters lack facial features all together. One police offer is nothing but a blank head. Several other images do this as well where Yu focuses solely on the character in frame and then gives the rest of the characters black lines for eyes, or a quick swipe for a mouth. It makes some of the panels appear rushed whereas others have an enormous amount of detail, particularly Yu’s drawings of Vegas and his rendering of a diner.
Sunny Gho’s colors are great when the book starts, but they don’t continue well throughout the comic. The beginning is very vibrant and colorful, but the second half is dull by comparison. While the beginning pages have copious amounts of detail, the last third of the book almost completely eschews the background detail so that many of the panels use flat colors rather than scenery. This makes me think, even more, that this was a rushed book. Given that the tattoo on Kasey’s hip is on a different spot than the cover doesn’t help either.
We know Mark Millar can churn out great stories, Superior and Kick-Ass being two prime examples. Supercrooks , however, lacks the same presence of character. Dave Lizewski and Simon Pooni are great creations. Johnny Bolt is not. Neither is the one-dimensional Salamander or the criminal turned honest girl Kasey. Supercrooks hinges on the idea that these people, who have failed at every other heist, can pull of another one without a problem. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and given that’s its poorly constructed and introduced, it’s even more difficult to get behind.
Tiny Titans #50
Written by Art Baltazar and Franco
Art by Art Baltazar
Published by DC Comics
Review by Amanda McDonald
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
I'm not one much for re-reading my single issues, but there are a couple of exceptions -- and Art Baltazar and Franco's Tiny Titans is a title that sees the light of day much more frequently than anything in my collection. Having a bad day? Read some Tiny Titans! Saturday morning cartoons just aren't "fun" anymore? Read some Tiny Titans! Finding some of the New 52 frustrating and need to remind yourself why you love comics? Read some Tiny Titans! That said, no one needs to find an excuse for reading this book; it's a kid favorite, a critical favorite, and packs enough smarts to appeal to even the most stereotypical nit-picky fanboy.
In an industry where only a select few books deliver a knock out every single issue, this book is one that never lets me down. Whether it's a clever reference, an adorable costume conundrum, snappy captions at the end of each scene, or even just looking for Alfred's framed photo of Dan DiDio — this book has provided a high level of consistently well executed entertainment month after month. This final issue is no different, with shorts that focus on a variety of characters and ultimately tie together by the end. While this book certainly appears childlike, Baltazar and Franco construct a plot that actually involves a fair number of differing scenes that flow together to create an actual plot out of what seemed to just be quick pages of the different events.
Somehow a Beast Boy/Terra romance, Cyborg and Robin planning to get some tacos, Superboy and Supergirl visiting Jor-El for new clothes, a burger eating trophy along side a couple of Eisners and a Harvey, and finally a Beast Boy "relaunch" (including a decree by Robin that red undies are no longer in fashion) all come together in a heartwarming scene that introduces us to Baltazar and Franco's vision of Superman. Sound like too much? It's really not at all when complemented by Baltazar's art and panel construction. A lot of the book involves a lot of the witty back and forth dialog that has become standard in each issue of this title. While there's a lot to pack in to each panel, Baltazar's simple character designs and fun details he sneaks into the backgrounds balance the reader's attention to not just the text but the visual as well, making this a great book to introduce young readers to the comic medium.
With a preview of Superman Family Adventures at the end of the issue, it's hard to be too broken up over the end of Tiny Titans, because the next Baltazar/Franco project just looks so good. To say this finale is bittersweet is inaccurate -- because it really is just sweet. The kids of Sidekick Elementary are still kicking it, with maybe a tease of seeing them again in the future, and it's time to introduce young readers to another aspect of the DC Universe. The preview looks really solid, packing a plethora of Metropolis' finest into those few pages and setting a tone for a very fun take on the Superman Family. I'm looking forward to this Free Comic Book Day offering and it's highly likely the book will end up being my new go-to Baltazar/Franco fun read of the month.
I'm still going to horribly miss seeing Tiny Titans in my stack of current comics, usually saving it for the last book of the night, in bed and ready for a few laughs. I have no doubt my single issues will still be in heavy re-reading rotation, and when the young kids I work with ask for comic recommendations, Tiny Titans will be my answer each time without hesitation. Actually, when most anyone asks for recommendations -- Tiny Titans is on that list, and will continue to be on that list for a long time. Take a look at this final issue, and enjoy these characters in an issue that exemplifies everything this series has been over the years.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!