BEST SHOTS Reviews: The Comic-Con SUPER-CUT Edition

Howdy folks! As pretty much everyone knows, this is the week of San Diego Comic-Con, which means that David Pepose, our fearless leader, is knee deep in quarter bins and cape sweat out on the west coast!  

With that in mind, I'm your temporary host, George Marston. Sorry for the delays this week, but that’s Comic-Con for ya.

This week, we're start by taking a look at Walking Dead #100 courtesy of Mr. Pepose, from beyond the grave! Or, at least from San Diego.


Walking Dead #100

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

Lettering by Rus Wooton

Published by Image Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Slow and steady. Like the shuffling undead that populate this series, The Walking Dead has cemented its place in the pop culture consciousness not with quick spurts or even game-changing events, but with horrifying consistency. 100 issues is a long time, and in an industry that is known for bombastic anniversary issues, it's actually surprising to see The Walking Dead #100 enjoy a more intimate celebration.

It's also brutal as hell.

Robert Kirkman reminds us all of how mortal his characters can be, and he actually channels his inner Tarantino with Negan, a foul-mouthed killer whose gleeful profanity crackles off the page. While there are the prerequisite soap opera check-ins that might lose all but the diehards, Kirkman actually shows us the entire formula of this series' success in the span of one issue: we meet a character. We see that character experience hope.

And that's when Kirkman brutally, violently — almost sadistically — takes it all away.

Artist Charlie Adlard also pulls some nice cinematic tricks with this issue, showcasing that hardened visual style that has come to define this book. His composition is particularly stirring, whether it's the sword-swinging Michonne keeping watch for zombies atop a van, or Rick fighting sleep while he's on deck.

Adlard's smaller moments are great, too, particularly a rapid-fire series of panels that show just how overwhelmed Rick and company really are. The violence and gore is particularly horrific here — whatever Adlard did to research that, it's going to send chills up your spine.

Yet this book's consistency can also be its weakness — or perhaps a better way to phrase it, it's limitation. While Kirkman does leave his mark on the cast in a decent-sized way, this doesn't quite feel like the triumphant victory lap that a premier creator-owned series reaching its 100th issue deserves. Compared to, say, the Governor's deadly attack on Rick's prison commune back in the "Made to Suffer" arc, Issue #100 is positively small stuff.

That said, longtime Walking Dead fans are going to still feel the hurt, as Kirkman gleefully shows his characters who's boss. This isn't a celebration with fireworks, but a sharp slap in the face to anyone who was getting complacent with the current cast. While this doesn't shake up the status quo as much as I would have liked, the solid execution for The Walking Dead still shuffles inexorably towards greatness.

AvX Vs. #4

Written by Rick Remender and Kaare Andrews

Art by Brandon Peterson and Kaare Andrews

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10


When you're putting out a tie-in book that aims to be all killer, no filler, you've got a high bar to reach. So far, AvX Vs. has done reasonably well in fulfilling its requisite beat-down quotient,

but there have been relatively few moments that really make the mini-series feel like more than a diversion. That all changes in this issue, wherein Rick Remender makes the conflict personal, and Kaare Andrews blows everyone's mind, including Thor's.

First up in this two-chapter issue is Rick Remender and Brandon Peterson's story, featuring hot ninja on ninja action with Daredevil and Psylocke throwing down both acrobatically and philosophically. I am unsure how I feel about Remender's Daredevil; he's more than a little stoic, which goes against Mark Waid's recent characterization of Daredevil as a freewheeling adventure hero, but that may simply be a product of the limited space, and little room for really digging into a character's attitudes in such a brief, action-packed story. To be fair, Psylocke is also all business, and for the first few pages, the story feels a little bit typical. Things take a turn for the better, however, when Remender explores the consequences of Psylocke probing Daredevil's mind, as she suffers an immediate backlash from the influx of stimuli from DD's enhanced senses. After that, it's a game of one-upsmanship, with the two combatants working hard to best each others' ninja tech. Meanwhile, Daredevil, having touched Psylocke's mind, realizes how personal the ongoing conflict has become for the mutants, leading to a final moment where Daredevil briefly sympathizes with Psylocke, before pointing out the obvious conclusion to the X-Men's anti-Avengers actions. It's not the most powerful moment of AvX so far, but it's certainly the best indicator of bigger implications so far in Vs, and results in the series’ first draw.

For his part, Brandon Peterson handles the story well, showcasing the acrobatic potential of the two characters, and conveying their martial arts with precision. Peterson channels the energy of Jim Lee's legendary X-Men run, but with a cleaner, more structured sense of line and composition. His Psylocke is particularly dynamic, though his use of dramatic lighting in his colors serves to give Daredevil a suitably theatrical appearance. If anything, there are some moments that feel a little too posed, adequately showing the choreography of the fights, but faltering in injecting the necessary sense of movement in some panels.

Kaare Andrews's chapter, wherein Thor faces down a newly godlike Emma Frost is where things get really crazy. Andrews starts out by channeling the best of Walt Simonson's Thor, with an almost blocky, massive sense of anatomy, and a grandiose bent on the narration. The story stops drawing on convention there, however, as Andrews's layouts and backgrounds become almost more impressionistic, or conceptual, using sound effects, collage, and almost manga-esque speed lines to heighten the action rather than give it context. The comparisons to Adam Warren and Paul Pope in Andrews's linework are obvious, but don't do justice to the way Andrews bends and twists the figures to his needs, resulting in a kind of energetic, unconventional, and visually exciting story of two characters absolutely wrecking each other.

The boundaries don't stop crumbling there; the sexual implications of Emma's journey into Thor's psyche alone are enough to push some readers perhaps to their limit. Others may criticize Andrews's use of the proverbial "butt shot" in several panels, though they don't exactly come across as sexy, more showcasing odd, shifted, and dynamic angles. The absolute highlight of this story is the splash page of Thor shattering Emma's diamond form completely, only to have the shards rain on him as she re-forms thanks to the phoenix force. Andrews's unconventional rendering and eye for dynamic characters is not the kind of art I'd expect to see in an event comic of this nature, but I applaud Marvel for going out on a limb, and not confining this kind of talent to one of its Strange Tales series. I would love to see more of this kind of energy and experimentation in mainstream comics.

It's hard to compare two stories that are so disparate; on one hand, you've got Remender and Peterson delivering a fairly straightforward, but high-energy, well executed superhero throwdown. On the other, you've got Kaare Andrews bending the conventions of mainstream superhero comics almost to the breaking point. It's kind of a beautiful treatise on the potential of superhero comics in the hands of people who love what they're doing, and have the chops to back it up. The overall story of AvX is almost inconsequential compared to the potential of that kind of single issue. Andrews's story alone could be enough to justify the entire six issue series. I almost can't recommend this issue enough.


Avenging Spider-Man #9

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art by Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Edgar Degado

Lettering by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Aaron Duran

'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10 Click here for preview

To be perfectly honest, I never really “got” Carol Danvers. People whose opinion I respected said the Ms. Marvel series was a blast. I tried them. They were fun, but I just couldn't wrap my head around this character. Perhaps, like the Carol herself, I was having a problem with her identity. She seemed to lack focus. But, that's slowly changed over the past few months. And while it might seem shallow to suggest that a mere costume switch can act as a catalyst, that's exactly what happened. In a few brushstrokes, Carol Danvers was the new Captain Marvel, and something felt right.

With Avenging Spider-Man #9, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and art by Terry and Rachel Dodson, we'll see if these changes are more than costume deep. From panel one, I got the sense this wasn't going to be the typical team-up style comic and I couldn't be happier. Reading Parker's horror at Danvers purchase of less-than-new Cessna propeller plane set the tone for the book. And in those few panels, DeConnick perfectly nails the voice for both Carol Danvers and Peter Parker.

Danvers has literally saved the planet. She's traveled this and other dimensions. And yet, none of that can even hold a candle to the thrill of taking a big hunk of metal connected to cables and pulleys up into the sky. You have to smile at this brilliant and honest character portrayal. (To say nothing of Parker's fear of the same).

I probably would have enjoyed an entire issue with Danvers and Parker flying across the country. Alas, these are superheroes and stuff has to happen. And yet, once the danger kicks in under the guise of a questionably sane Occupier in a jetpack, DeConnick plays up intellect over power.

Danvers and Parker might suit up, but Avenging Spider-Man #9 is all about reminding the reader that at her core, Carol is an intelligent and well-trained pilot. As such, she acts the part and in doing so, helps find much of that focus I never felt in series' past. Yes, we do eventually watch her cut loose with some of her powers, but it's the moments in the plane as she reacts to all manner of crazy (and to Parker) that really sell this book.

Then there is Terry Dodson on art. If you aren't a fan of his style, I'm not going to be able to sell you on how great it looks in Avenging Spider-Man #9. Though even his naysayers won't be able to deny that Dodson found a good balance between his classic pin-up styling and realistic movement. Again, the scenes in the skies as Parker hangs on for dear life as Danvers plays the part of a barnstormer are just a blast. There is a true sense of energy and urgency in the panels, you can almost hear the engine stall out and the wind rush past.

Rachel Dodson's inks, perhaps more so than Terry's pencils, help to sell Danvers' tough-as-nails determination in the pilots seat. Bailing on her mortal skills and reverting to superhero mode is absolutely the last thing she wants to do. The shadowing around Carol's eyes tell the whole tale. I was a little underwhelmed with Edgar Delgado's colors, as they felt a tad muted. However, having seen the book in both print and digital, I wonder if the printing process didn't effect the coloring. In digital, this issue brims with color and makes a perfect match for the Dodson's art.

Avenging Spider-Man #9 was more than I was hoping for. I had a feeling I'd enjoy DeConnick's snappy dialogue, the same with Terry and Rachel Dodson's art. What I didn't know was if I would finally find that connection with Carol Danvers I was looking for. Now I get it and I can't wait for more.


Revival #1

Written by Tim Seeley

Art by Mike Norton & Mark Englert

Lettering by Crank!

Published by Image Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Something strange is happening in Rothschild, Wisconsin. No one is dying. Or maybe it’s that they are dying but they’re not staying dead. At first glance, Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival #1 treads some well-covered ground. The dead are still walking around. Sound familiar? After the initial success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead, zombie comics were everywhere. Even Kirkman was riffing on his own popular book when he did Marvel Zombies but there’s always been something similar in all the zombie books. They’ve been mostly about the undead wanting to eat brains or something like that. It’s time for a different type of zombie book (if that’s what Revival even really is) and Seeley and Norton are blazing their own path.

Seeley and Norton introduce us to Rothschild, a small, snow-bound Wisconsin town like so many other small, snow-bound Wisconsin town. Mike Norton’s artwork captures the life of people in Small Town, America. Maybe it’s the cold and snow in Revival #1 but Norton’s art recalls Steve Lieber’s original Whiteout in the way that it creates its environment. Norton’s artwork grounds the story in a reality of its own design. Rothschild, WI may not actually exist but through Norton’s dedication to creating a small town of sheriff offices, bridges and farms, winter jackets and even odd breeds of a horse/zebra hybrid, Rothschild feels more real than most other fictional cities with decades of history behind them.

More importantly, Seeley and Norton introduce us to the Cypress family, the law in Rothschild. Dana, a sheriff’s officer and the daughter of the sheriff, is charged by her father to investigate the “revivers,” these dead people who refuse to stay dead. Dana has normal family issues that may be a bit exasperated when your father is both your boss and the sheriff. Her sister is actually her father’s favorite but she seems to be the one her father trusts to do the job. The higher-concept stuff of the undead practically takes a backseat to the little yet believable family issues that get dropped here and there in this issue.

After years of lesser comic creators trying to ape The Walking Dead by recreating the feeling of dreadful inevitability that Kirkman has built around that book (what’s going to happen next? Who’s going to get bitten? Who’s going to die?) Seeley and Norton finally start asking different questions about the undead. Rarely, if ever in this issue, are those who died and still walk this earth called “zombies.” “Revived” is such a better word for it and something you could see our media doing if an epidemic like this ever really happened. “Revived” changes the story just slightly over “zombie” and makes you realize that there may be something more happening here than just scared people running hiding behind fences, trying to protect themselves from the flesh eating zombies.

With their exploration of the undead, Seeley and Norton are asking different questions about the undead. Are they truly zombies or are we seeing the dead being given new bodies as part of a Heavenly resurrection? Why shouldn’t we be happy that our aged mothers and too-soon killed family members are seemingly impervious to death. “Oh, Death, where is thy sting?” could be a triumphant statement as much as it is a dreadful question. Revival #1 may look like another zombie book but that’s a line that Seeley and Norton carefully walk, never letting us know quite what’s going on at the start of their story.


Hey again, 'Rama Readers! George here, saying hello again from somewhere that isn't Comic-Con! Did I mention our fearless leader David Pepose is in the trenches out in San Diego? I did? Good.

Resources are scarce this week, but we've got a boatload more of our Rapid-Fire reviews for you , so strap on a life jacket and climb aboard! I'm gonna start the column off with another look at Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, Avenging Spider-Man #9. Enjoy!


Avenging Spider-Man #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; review by George Marston; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In our first look at the newly re-christened Captain Marvel, Kelly Sue Deconnick and the Dodson’s provide enough hook to make the character seem compelling, but the story itself doesn’t quite stack up. Quickly establishing Carol Danvers as something of a female Hal Jordan by taking Peter Parker up in a rickety old plane, Carol’s daredevil attitude set Peter alight as a girl with a jetpack sends the ride spiraling out of control. Carol’s characterization is alternately brash and flat, though Spidey is as funny as ever – fitting, since it’s his show. Aside from a few continuity issues (Carol knows Peter’s identity?), the story is fun, but sorta choppy, though the Dodsons and Edgar Delgado make it look good, with Carol’s new look really shining.


Batman #11 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 9 out of 10):
And so ends Night of the Owls, and how satisfying it is! Writer Scott Snyder wraps it all up without cauterizing the wound Lincoln March left. Batman #11’s showdown between the Cain and Abel of Gotham feels suspenseful and unique. Have we ever seen Batman escape a jet over Gotham? Snyder has accomplished the difficult task of introducing a worthwhile threat to both Bruce and Batman. The art by Greg Capullo is as astounding as it has been through this whole run. Capullo is officially one of the top talents working at DC. Not only has Batman #11 successfully introduced a new villain, but it gave fans two new amazing Bat-talents in Snyder and Capullo.

Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Divided We Fall begins on the X-Men front and we are treated to a book that brings the concept back around to what it’s always been: surviving and doing good even in the face of extreme adversity. Kitty Pryde’s narration drives the issue as Brian Wood turns Ultimate Comics X-Men from a superhero book to a dystopian, teenage road movie. Paco Medina complements Wood’s script with superb character work. The result is a book that is light on action but captures the paranoia and uneasiness of the mutant state of affairs perfectly and features that beginning of a potential update on the typical Kitty Pryde/Wolverine relationship.


The Massive #2 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10):
Callum Israel’s ship is as lost in the fog as the mission of its radical environmentalist captain, searching for a missing ship as The Massive searches for a direction in a title that needs to pick up steam. Brian Wood is trying to do too much, and my patience with the exposition is running thin, especially with such little movement on the present-day story. Touches like Mainland China destroying Hong Kong won’t sustain me if the characters don’t get more active. Dave Stewart uses three shades to help us understand the multiple time shifts, and artist Kristian Donaldson steadies the ship with impressive details and varied panels. Stick with The Massive for now but be aware it’s literally the slow boat to China right now.


Defenders #8 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10):
We're smack dab in the middle of Dr. Strange trying to prevent a war between Wakandans (Wakandians?) and John Aman, with the Defenders caught in the middle. We're shows some of Aman's origin and how he came into his power so I felt an instant connection to that, even though I’ve been out of the loop for a while. Matt Fraction definitely piles on the action here, and there is a lot going on. Some other story bits, like Shuri's thirst for vengeance are also explained. The art team of Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, and Dommo Aymara is just aces. Even with a busy page, this team knocks it out. While I wasn't too thrilled with the premiere issue of Defenders, things have certainly picked up.


Batman and Robin #11 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10):
A step up from the previous issue, Batman and Robin #11 still has a long way to go to find it's relaunch strength. The unexplained villain Terminus continues his war on Batman, while Damian Wayne continues his quest to punk every previous Robin. Although Peter Tomasi's dialogue between Damian and Jason Todd is fun, it still feels painfully out of character. I actually found myself wondering why Todd is holding back when the test tube child comes calling. Like the plotting, the art by Patrick Gleason looks choppy and lacks focus. Playing with proportions is great for conveying emotion and theme, but this time out, the dynamic duo just look weird. I sincerely hope this title finds it's footing again, and soon.


Spider-Men #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; review by George Marston; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10):
Wow, when Brian Bendis decides he’s gonna kick ass, he really kicks ass. This issue is all octane, as Peter and Miles tear their way through a host of Mysterio-conjured villains. Sarah Pichelli knocks the issue out of the park with a terrific sense of urgency and detail. When the illusory smoke clears, Miles is left answering to the Ultimates, and Peter is off making some bad decisions in the course of trying to figure out if the Ultimate Universe is real, or another of Mysterio’s tricks. There’s an emotional core to this story that’s just starting to come into view, as Peter discovers his alternate self’s fate, and makes a decision any sci-fi fan can tell you is risky at best.

Swamp Thing #11 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 7 out of 10): Even with the Bat looming large this week, Scott Snyder’s other book is not to be missed, although compared to previous issues of Swamp Thing, this one seems a little short on plot. Where last issue had the reader hungry more of the Anton Arcane vs. Swamp Thing showdown, this issue sees the rivals tussle too briefly before Anton just leaves. Swamp Thing is cutting off his arms but it’s a shotgun blast that makes him retreat? That’s all fine and well until Animal Man shows up and takes the narrative in a different direction. These two elements would have been great separately, but don’t feel like they get their due in one issue. However, Marco Rudy’s artwork is a great reason to give this a read!

Pantha #2 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): With friends like these, Pantha might just want to take her chances with the many enemies that line up in this plot-packed issue of Pantha that just has too much going on. It feels like writer Brandon Jerwa is frantically world-building, switching between three enemies, a flashback, intra-team fighting, cosmic elements, and a reporter caught in the middle. With so much to illustrate, Pow Podrix struggles to keep up with the fast pace of the story, making some odd panel choices and reusing body shapes which lead to me having to re-check to ensure it was a new character. Podrix does try hard to keep the many talking scenes varied. Pantha needs to stick to one plot or risk getting lost in its own complexity.

Planetoid #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): After crash-landing on a vast heap of space junk, wayward space-pirate Silas seeks a way to escape the planetoid. In this second issue we meet some of the humans struggling to survive on the planetoid, and the robot overlords who subjugate them and prevent them from escaping. Ken Garing has created a very interesting world in which to tell this story, and some interesting characters with which to tell it. The only things holding it back are that the script feels a little clumsy, and that the pacing is a bit uneven, with the plot jumping about quite a bit. His artwork is fantastic though, with lots of detailed linework, slick inking, and moody colors. Good sci-fi that falls just short of being great.

Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Words are what pull me into a comic. So, it's weird to review Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1 and wish there weren't so many. John Layman brings back the baddest you-know-what Rooster in the world. Butt-kicking ensues; butt-kicking drawn with wild abandon by Rob Guillory. Seriously, you haven't lived till you watch a cybernetically enhanced bit of poultry tear into a bad guy like he was a bucket of fried pizza bites drenched in gravy. There is some serious energy popping off this page. It's like someone decided to take the insanity of Evil Dead 2 and stick a rooster in it. I just wish Layman had simply written “Poyo kicks butt for 23 pages, Guillory: Go!” Because sometimes all you want is the crazy.

AVX: VS #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 9 out of 10): Of all the AVX: VS books so far, this one is definitely the best. The first half sees Psylocke and Daredevil facing off, not just physically, but ideologically. Rick Remender pulls back the curtain on the results of five god-powered mutants and leaves the fight at a satisfying draw. The only downside is Brandon Peterson’s artwork, which leaves something to be desired in the details. The real standout is Kaare Andrews, whose Thor/Emma Frost segment blows the entire series away. The script and artwork are bold, and heated to a boiling point. Emma has gone beyond ruthless to maniacal, and leaves the stoic Thor in pieces. Doesn’t matter if you’re reading Avengers vs. X-Men, this issue is a must read.

Eerie #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s a rebirth in more ways than one as Eerie returns to publication with stories old and new that match the theme of resurrection. Focusing mostly on horror with a scientific bent, this anthology features David Lapham pondering the horrors of the singularity, with additional tales that play with the idea of life, a clever way to reference bringing the book back. The stories are short with Twilight Zone-like endings, if the show had been on HBO instead of CBS. The four artists each bring unique styles to their respective entries that match the tone of the script and enhance the mood, with horror master Richard Corben’s “Child” being the creepiest of the bunch visually. Cousin Eerie and his macabre myths are in good hands.

Harbinger #2 (Published by Valiant Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Joshua Dysart wastes no time showing us some of what Peter Stanchek can really do, and in the process he fleshes out the character by forcing him to answer for his previous actions, namely his manipulation of insta-girlfriend, Kris. As such, the narrative inches closer to the familiarity of the original series, while still maintaining its own identity. Khari Evans gets some serious work in as Peter Stanchek unleashes his psionic abilities. The inconsistencies that plagued the first issue seem to have cleared up as well, leaving us with a good-looking, high-octane adventure that really ups the ante for what comes next.


Batgirl #11 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 8 out of 10):
After what was beginning to feel like a rut for Gail Simone’s Batgirl, issue number #11 reveals more of the big picture involving the lost Gordon kid, the cop from issue #1 and a great addition to Babs’s rogue’s gallery. Instead of the villain-of-the-month that’s been in place recently, Knightfall (a name that carries some Bat-Baggage) and her squad are formidable adversaries. Instead of being watered down Batman villains, they are uniquely Batgirl’s and mostly female, adding some diversity to evil in Gotham. The highlight of this issue, and Simone’s run, has been how well the writer has captured Barbara’s voice. The bits of banter and levity she adds to the situation are refreshing and genuine. Simone has done right by this character.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics #3 (Published by IDW; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Heroes in a half shell on a highway! Mistaken identity forces the Turtles and April to evade capture while Master Splinter makes an interesting discovery as the early days of the Eastman and Laird Turtles continue. After a strong first two issues, this one misses the mark. I don’t understand why you would put ninjas in a slow-speed car chase across New York City. The story wastes almost a full issue moving the Turtles to April’s apartment, but is saved by Splinter’s story. The art also loses a step because of the plot, with a lot of static box shots and facial close-ups that don’t allow for the innovation of issue two. It’s fun to see the progression of the series in these quality reprints.

Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture (Published by McGraw Hill; Review by Jeff Marsick; ‘Rama Rating 10 out of 10): Since this is SDCC week, it's only appropriate to review a book that takes an attendee's perspective on the show as the starting point of a discussion about the comic book industry as a whole, the medium’s extension into the pop culture consciousness, and how the whole dynamic is set to change with the digital age. Author Rob Salkowitz, in a thoroughly entertaining blend of memoir and business sense that doesn't mire in titillation or academia, also brings to light how digital comics may transform the landscape for comic book producers, their audiences, the Hollywood machine, future technologies, and the effect on SDCC in the future. This is a thought-provoking effort that retailers, creators, publishers and general fans can enjoy and learn from. Highly recommended.

Revival #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In rural Wisconsin, the dead have returned to life, and no-one knows why. Scientists search for an explanation, while the religious jump to predictable conclusions. Meanwhile, Officer Dana Cypress has a brutal murder to solve, and everyone is a suspect. While not quite the original spin on the zombie genre the solicitation claims it to be (see The Zombies That Ate The World), what takes this comic from being an interesting concept to being a solid story is the quality of the characters that Tim Seeley creates, and the great job he does of introducing them in this debut. Mike Norton illustrates the issue with nice clean linework, a strong sense of perspective, and great character designs. This is a strong first issue.


Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 9 out of 10):
The second installment in Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen starts slow, although, it doesn’t take long for the narrative to pull the reader back into the world of Watchmen. Some of the behind the scenes stuff is a little slow, and not as powerful in contrast to the elements that show The Minutemen as the flawed heroes they really are. Cooke’s artwork is the perfect match for the series; the colors even follow a somewhat similar palette to the source material. With the vintage look and feel of the 1940’s Minutemen, Cooke’s pencils and colors are like peanut butter to the story’s chocolate. Before Watchmen: Minutemen is still head and shoulders above much of the Before Watchmen series.

Hoax Hunters #1 (Published by Image; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Take one-half of Alex Grecian's Proof and one-half Mythbusters and you've got yourself this title. Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley have a great concept in the works, but the character work is lacking, especially since it's not certain who the main character is. We get a little back-story with Jack and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the bayou the Hoax Hunters team went to investigate, but nothing really stands out. Axel Medellin's art is inconsistent as the middle of the story is mostly head shots and dialogue, but the beginning and the end give proper landscapes and alright shots of what's going on. He could benefit from an outside inker and colorist. I want to see this book succeed, but things have to pick up.

Takio #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating 8 out of 10): In Takio #2 Brian Michael Bendis continues to show his understanding of not only the superhero genre, but the intricacies of family dynamics. It's fun to watch these two girls struggle with questions all kids face as they mature. And, with the possible reconciliation between Taki and Kelly Sue, the bonds between friendship and family will surely be tested. Michael Avon Oeming's art is more vibrant than I've seen in a long time. Even in dangerous situations, the characters reach out to the reader with energy and life. While I believe kids can handle intense situations more than we credit. There are a few scenes in Takio #2 that might push that edge for very young readers. Still, this a solid and much needed all-ages book.


Bloodshot #01 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Bloodshot thinks he’s fighting for truth, justice, and the American way in a manner only his nanite-infused body can, but when a rescue mission lands him in the hands of the enemy, he learns that everything he knows might be a lie. Duane Swierczynski carefully balances the story, making it seem perfectly normal until he pulls the rug out from under the reader, setting up multiple questions to drive the ongoing series. Unfortunately, the art was touched up too far, giving it an uncanny valley feel. That’s a shame because the basic layouts are strong and detailed. Without the effects, it would make for a great compliment to the story. Bloodshot looks to be a solid thriller comic for fans of that genre.

Fantastic Four Annual #33 (Published by Marvel Comics; review by George Marston; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Alan Davis pulls double duty as writer and artist in this annual that reintroduces his creations, the mystical Clan Destine, to the larger Marvel Universe. The story starts strong; Davis’s art is as good as it’s ever been, and his characterization of Johnny and Ben left me hoping he’ll get more time with the characters in future. Unfortunately, the book aims high, and tries to do too much with too many big ideas about time travel, family drama, and magical paradoxes. I admit, I’m not particularly familiar with Clan Destine, and it’s hard to know much about them from this story alone. It may have faltered with the bigger picture, but Davis’s take on the FF’s resident odd couple made the book worth reading.

Sparrow and Crowe: The Demoniac of Los Angeles #1 (Published by Hermes Press; Review by Jake Baumgart; RamaRating: 7 out of 10): The most refreshing aspect of this indie title by David Accampo and Jeremy Rogers is that, even though it’s a horror story with detective elements, the tone isn’t soaked in red and black, which helps the actual horror moments pop. Sparrow and Crowedoesn’t rush, so readers get to spend time uncovering the protagonist and this spooky version of Los Angeles. That may be a strange compliment, but the story feels fuller for it. The artwork by Jared Souza is a nice mix of Romita Jr. and I.N.J. Culbard, which works out nicely with the tone of this book. Although the artwork has some growing pains to get through, Sparrow and Crowe is worth checking out!

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