Best Shots Rapid Reviews: EARTH 2, DEADPOOL KILLS, More
Greetings, 'Rama readers! Get ready for the lightning round, as Best Shots takes on this week's big releases! So let's kick off with Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and company, as Aaron Duran takes aim at the latest issue of DC's Earth 2...Click here for preview): The First X-Men is a real mixed bag. It's fun to watch iconic Marvel mutants playing in the past, but I don't know how it fits the overall narrative. Neal Adams and Christos Gage have a good lock on Wolverine, were this story taking place in 2012 and not the 1960s. As it stands, his sympathetic actions and almost rabid desire to form a team feels very out of place. Adams art is also a mix. We he cuts loose, the energy on the page is darn near infectious. But this older Adams seems to have forgotten how to tone it down. Regardless of the scene, everyone is lunging, or posing, or shouting at the reader. To be honest, were it not for the great book ending moment with Erik Lehnsherr, I don't know if I'd come back for Issue #2.
Dark Shadows/Vampirella #1 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): A pair of protective vampires clash as they work to stop a serial killer before he strikes again in this licensed match-up that was surprisingly enjoyable. I have no attachment to either of the primary characters but after some standard vampire fare Marc Andreyko hooked me in by adding Jack the Ripper to the mix, who works well in the vampire context. Andreyko does a good job with dialogue/scenes to establish context, but there’s no strong explanation of the characters. Artist Patrick Berkenkotter draws the story as realistically as possible, with some nice close-up shots and a ton of restraint, despite the bloody nature of the plot. Those who like horror stories should check this out, even if you aren't already a fan of the properties.
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Although the father/son Kubert combo is interesting to look at on the page, it isn’t enough to pull this book up to the level of its Before Watchmen peers. With so much Rorschach in the issue, it’s hard to say this is a Nite Owl book. It resonates more like the early Denny O’Neil/Neil Adams Green Arrow/Green Lantern book. However, with a Rorschach book around the corner, it would be nice to have a little more Nite Owl. The books theme seems to be all over the place. Is this a team-up book? A story of the young, damaged Daniel Dreiberg? The morally gray Nite Owl? It doesn’t know what it wants to be, and could leave readers wondering if it’s worth continuing.
Garfield #4 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10):
Garfield saves the day twice in two different ways in short stories that don’t showcase the usual wit and cleverness of writer Mark Evanier. Regular series artists Gary Barker and Dan Davis use a very on-model style filled with knowing looks to both reader and characters to tell a story that lampoons the comic industry but anyone who is a fan of Evanier has seen him do the same riff far better elsewhere. Skewing down to the all-ages set, Mike DeCarlo gives too much of a Warner Brothers-inspired exaggerated look to Garfield while Evanier pens a heartwarming message about being open to friendship that feels forced, given that Garfield is the one delivering it. This is a rare miss from Evanier and company.
Courtney Crumrin #4 (Published by Oni Press; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): As this chapter of Courtney Crumrin's story comes to a close, I can't help but think things are about to get hellaciously ugly for the Crumrin Crew. This issue packs a lot of story and those who aren't familiar with instances that occurred in previous volumes might want to stay clear as they could get lost. This is definitely the end of one character's arc, but the beginning of something much more dangerous. Ted Naifeh has poured some serious work into these pages and mixed with Warren Wucinich's moody colors, it's gorgeous to admire. This whole collection can easily be described as the Empire Strikes Back of the series, as it ends one downer of a cliffhanger. Longtime fans of the series, consider this a warning to have some tissues ready at hand.
Hawkeye #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Colin Bell; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10) This book sees Matt Fraction and David Aja pick up where they left off when they departed Immortal Iron Fist – which is to say that both writer and artist are on tremendous form. Eschewing any notion of setting up a grand arc from the offset, Fraction writes a snappy, entertaining and relatively straightforward day-in-the-life introduction of Clint Barton that deftly showcases the archer’s personality, ability and general outlook. Conversely, Aja’s presentation of this story is anything but straightforward. The book is bristling with immersive, drawn-in lettering and dynamic panel layouts, helping make this a delightful done-in-one where the only hook for you to come back next month is that this is simply damn fine comics. Hopefully this confidence will take Hawkeye a long way.
Hypernaturals #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Bewilder and Thinkwell take the Hypernaturals rejects out on a trial mission, and things go south, prompting them to try and recruit long retired team members. This is very much a character issue, as Abnett and Lanning introduce us to members new and old, and establish their motivations. The duo excels in this regard, providing readers with three-dimensional and well fleshed out characters. The art team of Brad Walker and Tom Derenick illustrate the issue in a high-energy style that fits the cosmic/superhero theme of the story well, and it’s hard to tell where they pass the art baton. Hypernaturals feels a bit like a Legion of Superheroes story that DnA never got to tell, which is really DC’s loss.