Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with Kinetic Kat Vendetti, as she takes a look at the latest issue of Hawkeye...
Hawkeye #20 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Vendetti; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Fraction and Wu wrap up Kate’s Los Angeles adventures with a non-chronological structure that puts all the pieces together. It’s a cleverly crafted issue that comes full circle on its own and does the same for Kate’s arc as a whole. Wu delivers killer work as this issue’s format makes each page a contrast to the last, giving us Kate bruised and beaten on one page, and prim and purple on the next. Hollingsworth gets a range of scenes and moods to work with, too, from brightly colored sushi girl parties to some standout panels filled with purples and oranges. The large gaps between issues do make it hard to recall the purpose and recurring elements of Kate’s adventures; "L.A. Woman" would fare better as a trade, but Hawkeye #20 is a solid conclusion to Kate’s story.?
Batman Eternal #23 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Catwoman gets a big background reveal here that helps set up her upcoming solo adventures and Dustin Nguyen provides solid art, but there’s something about Batman Eternal that consistently holds it back. I think it’s that the incredibly expansive story is just too much for the weekly schedule. You can only get put so many scenes in a book and sometimes certain things feel a bit disjointed, especially when a character hasn’t been checked on for a while. In this issue, we get a half page of Killer Croc that seems almost out of place in the pacing of the book. Meanwhile, Hush is certainly a good addition to the cast and his villainy is already palpable in Tim Seeley’s script. There’s just got to be something pulling all these threads of story together better and right now, that’s hard to parse out.
Ms. Marvel #8 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): G. Willow Wilson takes a prime logistical concern for Kamala Khan's burgeoning superhero career and transforms it into yet another reason why Ms. Marvel is the most likable heroine in the Marvel Universe. Kamala's instantly endearing reaction to the teleporting Inhuman dog Lockjaw is a panel that will launch a thousand Tumblrs, thanks to the triumphant return of Adrian Alphona. Little details like Kamala's distended limbs as she runs are hilarious touches, and Wilson makes Kamala's trademarked "Embiggen!" the unofficial battle cry of teen superheroes everywhere. Ending with a strong cliffhanger that makes Kamala's personal and superheroic lives combine, it seems that a touch of Lockjaw is exactly what this series needed.
Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Scott Cederlund; ‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): You can’t say that Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a graceful story, but it ages pretty well compared to Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra’s comic sequel. Returning to the planet from Prometheus 200 years later, we see how the planet evolved after the events of Scott’s movie. New species have grown from the movie’s surviving alien lifeforms. Ferreyra’s art lusciously recreates the movie’s designs while taking the whole world down this H.R. Giger-inspired evolutionary tract. If Tobin had been quicker getting there, the story would have been solid. Instead, he trudges through an anonymous expedition crew, forcing character traits onto all of these meaningless walking plot devices. Maybe it is like the movie; gorgeous visuals that go along with an overwrought story.
Captain Marvel #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Marcio Takara makes his debut in this issue, and it’s a great example of his cartooning abilities. Rocket Racoon has just returned Cap’s cat as aliens attack the ship. There are a lot of talking heads but Takara shows a range of expressions and is able to effectively sell the humor in the plot. But plotwise, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s script kind of drags. It doesn’t do more than get Carol into one more situation she’ll have to punch her way out of. I like seeing Carol’s space adventures - it’s a great contrast to the last volume of the book. But the fairly solitary nature of this issue has taken away some of the pathos that was present before, because there just aren’t enough characters for Carol to bounce off of.
Birds of Prey: Futures End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): If there’s one thing Black Canary would do well, it would be to save women all around the globe and lead them in an all-women version of the League of Assassins. The issue is fairly solid and a good read for any fans of Black Canary—Batgirl fans should also check this out for her striking cameo. Throughout the story, we’re brought into Black Canary’s world in her new role as the leader of the Red League through a new character we can immediately sympathize and engage with, one who becomes one of Black Canary’s mentees. Writer Christy Marx uses this as an effective tool from the beginning, but the character falls to the wayside towards the end. The art, overall, is fairly well-done throughout the issue by Robson Rocha, making Birds of Prey: Futures End is one of the more gratifying reads of this event.
Copperhead #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Writer Jay Faerber spins a exciting new yarn that take cues from space western classics like Star Wars and Firefly. This debut introduces readers to a relatable and well-characterized protagonist in the form of Clara Bronson, who is the new sheriff in the frontier mining town of Copperhead. Faerber has tons of fun embracing genre tropes like the disgruntled deputy, the rich miner who controls the town, and more. Then he backs it up with interesting characters and hooks you in with an enticing mystery. Scott Godlewski’s art style has the perfect combination of gritty spaghetti western and sleek sci-fi stylistic elements, with some amazing creature designs. Copperhead #1 is a strong debut that will have you coming back for more.
New Suicide Squad: Futures End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): If I could give this issue a 10 out of 10 for pre-teen Joker twins and a teenage Deathstroke, I would. But even though there are several appearances of characters that will make you either laugh out loud, chuckle in embarrassment, or freak out in excitement, New Suicide Squad: Futures End amounts to nothing more than an action-fest with little emotional or meaningful impact on the larger narrative. The story moves too fast because it’s inherently plot driven — writer Sean Ryan never lets us in on why what’s going on is going on, which makes the entire story ultimately feel hollow. Artists Andre Coelho and Scott Hanna do well with the issue, which almost makes up for what amounts to a flat and inconsistent narrative. Despite its flaws, Amanda Waller is still a strong female character in this issue — despite not being “the Wall,” Waller is able to corale her team into action, lead them into an impossible situation, and save the world.
Inhuman #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): I've slagged on Inhuman before, but credit where credit's due - this series is starting to pick up! Writer Charles Soule finally hits his groove by balancing the stories of his NuHumans Jason and Dante as well as focusing on the precarious rule of Queen Medusa. Jason's story has the occasional logistical issue (the idea of a town of Inhuman descendents carrying on like nothing's up stretches the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, as well as the logistics of Jason's adoption), but the emotional content still stands. The overall plot is driven forward by Medusa's sparring with the Unspoken (even if Soule's previous cliffhanger is a total fake). Ryan Stegman's artwork looks the best it has in a long time, with his inks coming off particularly smooth. Much improved on all fronts.
Worlds’ Finest: Futures End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Say what you will about the boob window, but Karen Starr as Power Girl, especially in her New 52 rendition, is still very much a character with which to be reckoned. The story follows Power Girl as she attempts to infiltrate Cadmus Island. Writer Paul Levitz immediately does several things right in the narrative: shows us a compelling reason as to why Power Girl is there and puts her in a situation in which she has to infiltrate rather than bust down a door. We clearly know her objective and what obstacles are in front of her, which makes the entire issue rather engaging — it’s also just really cool to see a member of the Super-Family try and do things the Bats are good at. Yildiray Cinar on pencils does a good job at keeping everything in order visually, especially when Fifty Sue and her unique powers come into the mix. Overall, even though the story doesn’t pack as big of an emotional punch as it could have, this is still a solid story.
Avengers Undercover #10 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The writing is a bit saccharine and the conclusion is fueled by a pretty big deus ex machina, but Dennis Hopeless and Tigh Walker send Avengers Undercover off in style. A colleague of mine might have blasted Walker’s art for his “pinched-up old lady faces,” but there’s a certain charm and kineticism to his cartooning. It’s somewhere between Brahm Revel and Humberto Ramos and I’m pretty into it. Hopeless does his best to cobble together a satisfying conclusion and he’s mostly able to do that, even if it feels a bit forced. He definitely leaves the door open for the continuing adventures of Marvel’s next generation but his conclusion is apt. It’s not about what other people want you to be. At the end of the day, you’re in complete control of your own path.
Wild’s End #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The same team responsible for The Dark Ages, Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard, deliver what seems to be a sister book to that series, about an alien invasion in a quaint town of anthropomorphic animals. Abnett sets the scene by introducing us to an idyllic English village, filled with charming characters that make you wish for simpler times, before bringing it all crashing down with death and destruction… and so a grand adventure begins. Culbard’s artwork is wonderful on this series. His style seems to fit this type of story better than anything I’ve seem him illustrate before, and his anthropomorphic characters are completely magical. Wild’s End #1 is intoxicating and enchanting with a deadly sting in the tail.
Constantine: Futures End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): One of the surprisingly great things about DC's Futures End tie-ins is that it provides an easy jumping-on point for readers who might have been scared off by the complicated ongoing storylines. Which is a fancy way of me saying that Ray Fawkes has earned a convert with Constantine: Futures End, in which everyone's favorite "gutter mage" has his last stand against the Helmet of Nabu. Lots of twists and tricks went into the plot of this issue, as Fawkes really puts his finger on what makes Dr. Fate as a concept seem a bit ickier than, say, Dr. Strange. Artist Juan Ferreyra's painterly style is eerie and occasionally distended, but it lends such a nice sense of terror, especially watching people get eaten by jackal-faced Egyptian gods. As far as done-in-ones go, this might be my favorite of Futures End.
Annihilator #1 (Published by Legendary Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): You know it’s a Grant Morrison comic when it features a story within a story and characters crossing the barrier between fiction and reality. Morrison tells an interesting story that explores the parallels between creator and creation. He intersperses this introspective character examination with over-the-top sci-fi action sequences in the form of the second narrative—really helping the keep the plot involving yet exciting. Frazer Irving is the real star here, though. I’ve been following his career closely for years and it feels like his style becomes more refined and more unique with each new project. He does lots of experimentation in this issue and it really pays off. Annihilator #1 is one of the most stunning-looking books being published right now.
Batgirl: Futures End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s a little strange that Gail Simone’s last time with Babs is with the character hulked-out and in a leather fetish outfit calling herself (the uninspired) Bette Noir (or Black Beast or whatever). Sure, in the five-year jump Batgirl has been broken emotionally and trained by Bane, but the send-off is a little strange when considering Simone’s run as a whole. However, we do get all the Batgirls. Not only is Stephanie Brown and Lucius Fox's daughter in the cape n’ cowl, but Cassandra Cain is back! Thankfully this issue features interiors by Javier Garron, who delivers sharp-looking figures punctuated by the visual camera-direction that title was lacking. We may not have gotten the emotional send-off for Barbara she deserves, but we know there will always be another Batgirl.