Best Shots Rapid Reviews: X-MEN LEGACY, AME-COMI, TMNT, More
Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for the lightning round? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off the fun with the latest in Avengers vs. X-Men tie-ins, X-Men Legacy #267...
In a lot of ways, Christos Gage is doing what the rest of the AvX crew should be doing — he picks a side, and then shows just how evenly matched the Avengers and the X-Men truly are. Of course, every power has its downside, and when you can absorb the power set of Avengers like the Falcon or Moon Knight, Rogue gets more than her fair share of striking moments.
The art, by Rafa Sandoval, is some of his best yet. From Gambit smoothly dodging Iron Man's repulsive blasts to Rogue channeling some of the Falcon's flying, everything exudes speed and motion. And you know what? He also knows how to sell a splash page. If you're looking for some well-choreographed fighting between two of Marvel's biggest teams, read X-Men Legacy. This book packs some serious punch.
It's also good. Really good. In fact, with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti on the words, Amanda Conner on pencils, and color by Paul Mounts, Ame-Comi: Wonder Woman #1 is perfect. Everything you love about Wonder Woman is here. Secluded island of Amazon warriors. A princess that wants to see the world. An over-protective queen. An invading army from a despotic nation. And, of course, Minotaurs as sparring partners. Sure, the first issue is a little light on the plot, but that doesn't matter.
What matters is just how much fun this comic is. Gray and Palmiotti haven't written dialogue this witty and natural since Power Girl. Amanda Conner's pencils are sharper than ever. Every character in this book pops with life. Her character composition is so strong, I'm pretty sure everyone could have had their backs to the reader and you'd still get a sense of life from them. Mix this composition in with dazzling colors from Paul Mounts and you've got DC's nicest looking book of the week. Be it print or digital. Toss in the 99-cent price point and you've got comic perfection.
Despite coming at this story from the middle, I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the plot is to a new reader. The Turtles are still their basic selves, but in this world, they are reincarnated from human form, along with at least Splinter and Shredder. That matters less than you’d think, because the key to this story is the dynamic of the characters, from the super-serious Rafael to the intellectual Donatello. Most of the issue is devoted to Splinter at the hands of Shredder, and the rat’s internal monologue as he fights for his life is very well-written by Tom Waltz.
In an interesting choice, the art strongly resembles anime, as artist Dan Duncan’s panels evoke screenshots from a television program. His lines are thin and angular, even with the rounded Turtles, and battle scenes have the exaggerated look of something like Bleach. You might call this “Ultimate” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the result, like the early Marvel work from that line, is a solid story for new and old fans alike.Click here for preview): Wolverine and the X-Men has been one of the biggest casualities of AvX so far. In the midst of this summer’s blockbuster event, the book has lost some of the John Hughes-meets-Chris Claremont charm that made the early issues so good. Most of the book is focused on Wolverine and Hope, while the other half features some of the various AvX fights going on around the world.
Wolverine’s inner turmoil over having to potentially kill Hope drives the book, but it’s tedious. We already know how he feels about getting kids involved in a war, and retreading those feelings is tiresome. Plus there is no dramatic tension. We know that Hope can’t die now. Avengers vs. X-Men #5 hasn’t even come out yet. This book was unique before because it focused on a cast of relatively new, young characters in a fun school setting with Wolverine in a role that we hadn’t seen him in before. That’s gone now.
The artistic staffing on this book makes me happy though. Despite the fact that we aren’t getting a steady diet of Chris Bachalo, the Bachalo/Bradshaw team is akin to Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin’s work on Daredevil; their styles compliment each other and manage to give the book a relatively consistent look and feel. But strong cartooning isn’t enough to salvage any of the emotional depth lost in the wake of AvX. Hopefully, as the next issue seems to focus on the more of the action at the school, we’ll get something closer in style and tone to the excellent beginning of this series.Click here for preview): Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man Annual treads some familiar ground, but succeeds in shoring up the basic mythos of the series by making old readers ask new questions. The story follows an avatar of the Red in 1894 in rural Manitoba, his team-up with that time’s Swamp Thing and their battle against the Rot. Involving Jacob Mullins, his family in Canada and a different Swamp Thing stretches the mythology of the Red, the Green and the Rot similar to exploring the history of the Waynes, Arkhams and Cobblepots in the Batman universe. Interesting parallels come into play. Jacob’s daughter and wife look eerily like Maxine and Ellen. Jacob calls his daughter “Little Wing” just like Buddy does Maxine... and Jacob’s vision features a future that we are all too familiar with.
Timothy Green II joins Lemire for this one-shot and he fits right into the world of macabre horror that Travel Foreman and Steve Pugh have established. The agents of the Rot are suitably grotesque and Jacob Mullin’s use of the Red's powers is wonderfully understated. Green does have a weakness for drawing odd-looking children but he makes up for it by displaying a knack for dynamic perspectives and a killer double-page spread.
This annual is really solid but it feels non-essential for casual fans. New readers would be better served to just start from the beginning, but hardcore fans will definitely be excited by some of the new questions raised by this book.
I was really disappointed that Tim Seeley’s opening issue did not cover any new ground. That changes here, as he expands the world of creatures that are like Cabbot Stone, giving us some room to compare him to others, especially his brother. I really liked their verbal exchange, with the idea that Stone could eliminate pain but chooses to keep it being a really telling point of characterization. Also, the idea of providing Stone with new faith has a lot of potential.
The artwork of Francesco Gaston continues to be strong, and I love the Witchblade nod with one of the minor characters who appears on a splash page. He also does a great job with faces, showing just how cruel the project director is and Stone’s air of indifference, which is looking increasingly like it’s all an act. Tim Seeley has a strong reputation and this issue places Bloodstrike closer to Glory and Prophet in terms of quality. I’m not quite ready to recommend it, but if you have some curiosity about the book, now might be a good time to see if you like it.
Yet this story is a fun adventure tale, packed with lighthearted supernatural elements and a classic Hellboy brawl. The issue is well-paced and concise, which is a good thing, because a few of the more recent B.P.R.D. minis have felt a little decompressed at times. Max Fiumara provides artwork for the issue, and his style fits the title perfectly - he has a cartoonish sense of anatomy and facial features, which makes the characters look eerie and spooky; he also draws some highly detailed backgrounds, which helps to enhance the “haunted house” aspect of the story. His brushwork is rich and generous, bringing a dark and moody atmosphere to the final artwork.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Transformation of J. H. O'Donnell is a fun tale from Hellboy's days with the agency, which makes for a nice break from the ongoing mythology of the B.P.R.D. universe.
The voyages of the classic 1960s show continue to be re-imagined with the J.J. Abrams cast in this solid series from IDW. One of the best moves that Abrams made with the movie was to shift into a new universe, allowing him the freedom to change things more easily. That spirit continues with Mike Johnson’s script, which echoes the original story but adds its own twists. I especially like how the focus is not always on Kirk and Spock here, as it was on the television program, allowing other characters to shine.
Stephen Molnar’s artwork does a good job on the likenesses, but I do wish there were more action in this issue. A lot of the panels are people talking in place, and I’d like to see them move, even when discussing things. He does a great job with the backgrounds and giving the series a big-budget feel that simply wasn’t possible on television. This is the first part of a new story arc and is a great jumping-on point for new readers. Fans of Roddenberry’s universe should definitely check out Star Trek, because it’s doing a great job of carrying on the legacy of the show.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!