Greetings, 'Rama readers! Hope you brought your need for speed, because the Best Shots team is coming at you like lightning, with this week's Rapid-Fire Reviews! And speaking of lightning, let's cut to the quick with George Marston, as he takes a look at the Wizard's family dynamics in this week's FF #22...FF #22 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by George Marston; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): FF#22 highlights many things that are great about Jonathan Hickman's run on the Fantastic Four, particularly his knack for characterization and his grasp of the FF's larger mythos. There are some really great beats, such as the issue's payoff, when Bentley serves his "father," the Wizard, a much-needed reality check, and Bentley and Valeria riding to AIM Island on a jet-powered rocking horse. Andre Araujo and Chris Peter turn in some fun and kinetic art that feels spot on for a story about young kids. The only sticking point are the references to Valeria's age, which is hard to judge from her behavior and appearance, and kind of breaks my suspension of disbelief. Despite that, FF #22 is a great read. Flash #0 (Published by DC Comics; Review by George Marston; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): This may be the first truly perfect issue of Manapul and Buccellato's Flash. After a year of learning new things about the Flash and his world, we're finally learning about Barry Allen. He's been something of a cipher since issue one, so this look into the two father figures that shaped his life, and his motivations for becoming a crime-fighter, both in his secret identity and out, is eye-opening and much-needed, and I'm finally sold on the mystery of his mother's death. Of course Manapul's art is as gorgeous as ever, and there are enough glimpses of Flash's origin and Flash in action to make this feel like the start of something great. This is the Flash I want to read.
Captain Marvel #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Go Carol, go! Kelly Sue DeConnick writes one charismatic protagonist with Captain Marvel, as Carol Danvers ignores the odds and barrels head-first into an alien spacecraft. Spunky, strong and likeable, DeConnick has made a wonderful superheroine in the vein of She-Hulk and... well, She-Hulk, honestly. The real surprise of this issue is Dexter Soy, who smooths out his harsher edges and uses his color palette in a way that's similar to Frazer Irving. This book does falter at the end, however, as DeConnick's time travel mechanics become harder to follow (along with a drastic art shift). Still, Carol Danvers is a fun character to watch, and this comic is still well worth the price of admission.
Talon #0 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Rarely in comics is the quality of the story and art a perfect fit at this sort of level. Talon #0 is the perfect blend of storytelling by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and visual bliss by Guillem March and Tomeu Morey. Tynion and Snyder find that zone between engaging excitement and a humanizing, light-hearted feel. Calvin Rose is a brand-new character and readers will root for him by the end of page one. Words aside, this story is just as visually engaging. The artwork by March and Morey is beautiful in it’s smooth, bold, lines and sepia palette. Even for the Bat-haters out there, take notice — DC has a new character on their hands that's sure to become a classic.
Amazing Spider-Man #694 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): This can't be it... can it? Overpowered super-teen Alpha goes out with a whimper rather than a bang, making his story in Amazing Spider-Man feel like a failed experiment. Writer Dan Slott's solution to the Alpha problem comes off with little setup, feeling almost arbitrary — still, he does write Spider-action like nobody's business this week, with a high-flying airplane rescue that is definitely full of derring-do (but with consequences that are pretty much waved off in the span of a page). Humberto Ramos' art works best in the action sequences (like Ms. Marvel launching Spidey at a plane), but he does come off a little more deformed than cartoony with the facial expressions. With Slott leading into the War of the Goblins, Alpha's story hopefully isn't over just yet — because if it is, man, that was a letdown.
Teen Titans #0 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Erika D. Peterman; ’Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Meet Tim Drake, overachiever. Batman’s third charge gets an origin story makeover in this issue, and he’s recast as a highly competitive gymnast/genius who’s apparently good at everything. This take isn’t as big a departure as it sounds; Tim's still the crack detective-in-training on a quest to learn Batman’s identity and become his partner. But his motivation for this undertaking seems contrived, as does the convenient way Scott Lobdell’s story engineers Mr. and Mrs. Drake’s exit from their son’s life. Penciller Tyler Kirkham contributes some striking panels, though the art tends to be overworked. The tweaks to Tim’s backstory seem unnecessary, but they’re ultimately harmless.
Space: Punisher #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jose Camacho; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): How do you outdo a four-armed Hulk destroying the Fantastic Four in your previous issue? By starting your next issue with Frank Castle fighting hordes of Hitler clones at a planet called Skullworld. Writer Frank Tieri continues to pay homage to pulp comics with this series, keeping the plot simple while having outrageous dialogue, cameos and violence. Texeira’s obviously pulp-influenced art looks like it was originally printed in newspapers around the same time that Technicolor was invented. Expecting anything other than (lots of) violence and (lots of) humorous threats will just set you up for (lots of) disappointment. But when it comes to most things involving Frank Castle, would we have it any other way?
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): If there is one thing that Steed and Mrs. Peel has, it’s downright charm. With story by Mark Waid and a script by Caleb Monroe, the books twists and jerks in so many directions that by the end you’re not sure what just happened — but all in the best possible way. It’s not a cliché to say that this book has a little something for everyone. One of the books highlights is the art by Will Sliney. With strong brush strokes and bold narrative style, Sliney keeps the page engaging without mucking up the place with too many lines or hashing. In a comic world full of zero issues and reboots, Steed and Mrs. Peel is a great place to start outside of the mainstream.
The Tower Chronicles (Published by Legendary Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Who is John Tower? Matt Wagner struggles a bit answering that question of his titular monster hunter, in a story that relies more on atmosphere and imagery than a strong, standalone story. Wagner's POV character, FBI agent Alicia Hardwick, feels a little more exploitative than self-sufficient, and it does take a while to get to really interacting with Tower himself. That said, artist Simon Bisley is a beast with a pencil — his larger-than-life characters help create a world that's twisted, inhuman, claustrophobic and altogether dangerous. Bisley's vision of feral vampires and raging ghosts make The Tower Chronicles a deadly force to be reckoned with. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!