'Rama Readers, get ready to run fast and furious, because Best Shots has a ton of Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's cut to the chase with the conclusion of Spidey and Lizard's battle, as we take a look at Amazing Spider-Man #691...Amazing Spider-Man #691 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Dan Slott's greatest gift as a writer is that he can always put a fresh spin on existing mythology. Case in point: Why is the Lizard so villainous? His sense of where Curt Connors ends and the Lizard begins is fascinating, and well worth the price of admission. (In a lot of ways, Spider-Man is sort of incidental in this story.) This does put artist Giuseppe Camuncoli in an awkward place, however, as there aren't a lot of strong visual beats for him to work with (although a short few panels of Spidey dodging the Lizard's tail show how fluid he can draw). Slott's epilogues are also really on-point this month, tying a nice bow on the Lizard's story while adding something new to another villain's. It's not a blockbuster ending, but it's easily one of Slott's smartest. Batwoman #12 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman are shooting straight from the hip in Batwoman #12. Williams makes his signature splash with his return to interior art duties. The story structure and art ebb and flow for a beautiful, nicely-paced issue. The jarring, out-of-order storytelling that has previously defined the book is resigned to two main storylines — Batwoman and Wonder Woman. With implications that reach beyond Batwoman's pages and weave notions of classic Wonder Woman continuity into them, they collide in a way that has me anxious for the next installment of the arc. That would be a first for this title. A year is a long time to wait for payoff, but for those who have been dizzied by previous issues — here's to seeing clearly.
Saga #6 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Saga #6 hits all the right notes. There is plenty of action, a magic sword, a couple of moons, a lot of emotion, some well-timed humor and enough blunt-force cursing that lands the vibe of this issue somewhere between sci-fi phenomenon and a sitcom on HBO. The new first family of comics —Alana, Marko and Hazel — and their would-be assassins make for primetime drama. The consistently superb stylings of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples create undeniably human moments on bizarre alien worlds. I would love to be a fly on the wall of their creative process. Staples' art is so wildly imaginative and expressive that I am visually thrilled to the bone at every page turn. Saga #6 is an enjoyable and unique comic reading experience.
Daredevil #17 (Published by Marvel Comics ; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Here comes Daredevil’s past back to haunt him, as the distrust between Matt and Foggy shows its long history in a jumping-on issue with guest artists Mike and Laura Allred. Mark Waid’s script is a bit thinner than usual, as he has Daredevil reflect on the past while preparing to find out who is out to destroy his life time. Mike has DD bounce around the action, creating stunning, Ditko-like layouts to depict everything from an argument with Foggy over keeping secrets to battling the late Stilt-Man to a touching temporary cure for Matt. Two half-page spreads are particularly awesome and worth the $2.99 alone. Laura provides bright colors that are a contrast to the usual Marvel shades, capping a great fill-in issue.
Bloodshot #2 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Even nano-bots can only take so many headshots and if Bloodshot can’t get free, he’ll never have the answers he seeks in a better-looking second issue that continues the “question everything” motif. The regenerative super-agent is now free of his corrupt handlers, but the truth is still hazy and his situation perilous, as Duane Swierczynski deftly shows, keeping the story going even as Bloodshot tries to stop and think. The art this time is a lot less processed and better used, highlighting violence or things that aren’t real. You can see the details of Manuel Garcia and Arturo Lozzi’s lines more clearly now, and they show a great sense of realism and emotion in all areas, finally showing the potential of this enjoyable action-adventure.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart, 'RamaRating: 8 out of 10): What makes the first issue of Rorschach’s story so different from the other books is that it feels more like a modern comic book. It feels like it’s built for the collected edition with the set-up of serial killer Bard and the current threat of the drug supplier. Moore used context clues to let the reader know that the world thought Rorschach was a dirtbag crawling around in NYC’s seedy underground. Here, readers actually get to experience it. Truly, the best part was Lee Bermejo’s super-ultra-mega-realistic style that’s can be so unnerving and eerie that it feels like Rorschach could actually be in the room next to you. Rorschach had a notable fanbase going into this and I think they are going to be pleased.
Butcher Baker #8 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): This series, which started with a definite bang, has sadly ended with something of a whimper. By this point in the story any semblance of plot has gone out of the window, to be replaced with and sad and desperate attempts at weirdness and controversy. In this final issue, all that happens is that characters fight each other. Which characters? It really doesn’t matter, because the characterization is so poor that they are almost interchangeable. The issue comes to an abrupt end with many plot threads left unresolved. The only good thing about this issue is Mike Huddleston’s artwork, which was worth the wait between issues — he’s so creative with his linework, inking and coloring that it almost makes up for the poor story.
DC Universe Presents #12 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): I didn't think I'd like this comic — boy, was I wrong. While occasionally Fabian Nicieza's script has some rough edges (including comments about "metrosexual pantywaists" that raised my eyebrows), there's a ton of enthusiasm behind this solo Kid Flash story, and it's infectious. Nicieza wastes no time in pitting super-speedster Bart Allen against a trio of dino-teenagers, and let's the fun of the concept sell itself. But it's artist Jorge Jimenez who really sells this book, really channeling that cartoony, carefree Humberto Ramos vibe that made Bart so popular in the first place. From Bart chasing down rampaging dinosaurs to creating a vortex with his arm, Jiminez's storytelling is clean, fun and energetic (especially with Guy Major's colors). Consider Kid Flash a runaway hit.
Victories #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Michael Avon Oeming’s new superhero series gets off to a decent start with this debut issue. The visuals are definitely the strongest point of the comic, with some wonderful cartooning and beautiful brushwork. The only thing really holding the story back is that it kind of fails to adequately define its central premise and grab the reader’s attention. Some of the issue’s dialogue is also a bit weak and artificial sounding, packed to the brim with needless exposition. That being said, the issue still contains some interesting characters, and hints at definite potential for the future of the series. Hopefully the second issue puts a bit more flesh on the bones of the story.
Fatale #7 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Deniz Cordell; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Fatale is still an excellent book, and while Ed Brubaker's scripting is sharply defined, filled to overflowing with smart rat-tat-tat dialogue and rich veins of characterization, Sean Phillips' rich artwork envelops the reader firmly in this rain-slicked, blood-drenched milieu. Phillips' eye for detail leads to characters with distinctive visual identities, and, working with Brubaker's well-observed script, what makes the book sing is the feeling of total authenticity. It may seem a small thing, but the people in this book know how to smoke cigarettes, and the billows and trails of smoke that Phillips draws are wonderfully wispy and evocative. Dave Stewart's terrific, understated colorwork drenches the book in marvelously muted tones — aesthetically, the book is beautiful, and the plot is a model of elegant, clever construction.
Betty and Veronica #261 (Published by Archie Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The supernatural aims to sink its fangs into the summer fun of the Riverdale gang in this horror-themed two-parter that puts a stake of parody through the heart of several vampire fictions. Writer/artist Dan Parent takes his great handle of Archie’s cast from and uses them to make fun of Twilight, Buffy and even Warren comics stalwart Vampirella. Parent throws ideas from each into a blender and uses his eye for visual slapstick to give a sense of menace but with a lighthearted nature, as Riverdale is slowly turned into creatures of the night. The plot moves quickly, aided by Parent’s fast visual pacing with expressive faces, body language and clever quips in a story that should end just in time for Halloween.
Hulk #56 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Even though this is Part 4 of this arc, writer Jeff Parker makes this an accessible, compelling introduction to a threat that can make even the Red Hulk pause. From the beginning, with a half-desiccated Red Hulk lying in the depths of a Mayan temple, the stakes are high, thanks to the realistic artwork of Dale Eaglesham. Aside from a flashback sequence told in Mayan pictographs, Eaglesham's artwork makes every punch thunder, with flames burning so intensely you can almost feel the heat. The only problem with this book? It's mostly setup, and once Parker explains who these Mayan "gods" are... the issue's mostly over! For long-time readers, that might be too slow for comfort, but for new readers, this is a great place to get hooked.
Sensational Spider-Man #33.2 (Published by Marvel Comics ; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 2 out of 10): It takes a monster to stop a monster when even the heroes give up in this incredibly odd way to celebrate Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary. The new Vulture has to dispense justice when both the Webslinger and his police ally both give up on stopping a corrupt businessman in a very depressing story from Tom DeFalco. Nothing here honors Peter’s legacy, from jokes that fall flat to protecting an attempted murderer and letting the big criminal go free. The art does not improve either, with Carlo Barberi and Walden Wong still providing scant details, further weakening the script. Close-up faces reveal no emotion and medium cuts provide little more than posing, with no innovative artistic use of such an iconic character in this extremely disappointing comic.
Popeye Classics #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Deniz Cordell; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): When it comes to my heart lies with Segar, but it's terrific to have the very funny work by Bud Sagendorf back for a wider audience. IDW does fine job of restoring the comic's colors, while maintaining that delightful newsprint aesthetic. Sagendorf's shaggy-dog style of storytelling gives his stories their own distinctive pace. The issue is split into three main stories — one involving an Anti-fisticuff society (with a hysterical monologue from Olive), the second a blackly humorous mystery filled with its fair share of skullduggery, and, last, a tale of Popeye, Pappy and Wimpy. For Popeye fans, having these back in print is a delight, and for those looking for humor comics, here's a new series of reprints sure to get you laughing with its funny dialogue, charming plotting and funny characterization. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!