Hey there, ‘Rama Readers! Our faithful editor Pepose is doing NYCC things, so a few of us stayed behind to man this ship. We’ve got some easily digestible Rapid Reviews to snack on in between all the New York Comic Con buzz. First up, the “new” Batgirl…
Batgirl #35 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Disclaimer: if you roll your eyes at youth culture and dislike general whipper-snapper-ness, this is not the Batgirl for you. That being said, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher have aged down Babs for the better. Barbara now feels like an actual young 20-something with all the partying, cell phone obsession and the Scott Pilgrim social sphere. Riot Black is a great choice for an adversary because you can't help but roll your eyes at that guy when you see him on the street. Babs Tarr is also the perfect fit for this new tone on Batgirl. The artist feels like the combination of Becky Cloonan and Kate Beaton which is sure to make her popular with a younger audience - the people this book was made for.
Amazing Spider-Man #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Christos Gage writes a cohesive, funny script that captures these characters perfectly and never lags. Dan Slott and Gage have developed Anna Maria Marconi, who could have been a mere plot accessory, into the voice of reason in Peter's life, like M to James Bond. Artists Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and Antonio Fabela make a spectacular team. Camuncoli perfectly emulates Adrian Alphona's Ms. Marvel style to depict Kamala and Bruno. One of Camuncoli's most impressive panels is when Dr. Minerva is barreling towards the reader in front of speeding traffic. Fabela deserves particular praise for the luminosity he gives to Peter and Dr. Minerva's costumes. The second part of this issue ties into Edge of Spider-Verse. I hope future issues continue to let Gage and Camuncoli showcase their talent.
Klarion #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Klarion’s ornery nature and ethical androgyny have always been a bounty of story possibility, and Klarion #1 cashes in on that… and the multiverse. Klarion serendipitously finds his way to a place called the Moody Museum acquiring a bevy of strange friends, and even stranger foes, along the way. Ann Nocenti jams a ton of set-up and characters into this first issue and Trevor McCarthy is the perfect artist to handle that density and the aforementioned strangeness. He does so with distinct character detail and clever panel layouts, and Guy Major’s colors are magical and sinister in all the right places. Nocenti’s dialogue is bitingly heavy-handed at first in an attempt to capture an edginess that magical teenagers might possess. By the end of the issue, it finds its avant-garde stride, and you’ll start to feel comfortable and curious in Klarion’s odd new world.
Batman Eternal #27 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Javier Garron is the star of this installment, imbuing Batman Eternal with a certain measure of energy and (mostly) strong characters. He runs into some trouble when posing Catwoman but there’s a certain Nick Bradshaw/Chris Bachalo tinge to his art that gives his characters a ton of presence in just about every panel. Tim Seeley moves the plot along pretty well in this one. It’s impossible to check in on every storyline in every issue of Batman Eternal but Seeley hits most of the major players. He does some nice character work with Spoiler and fans of Killer Croc won’t be disappointed as he gets a big part. Seeley probably doesn’t do enough with Bard and Batgirl, though. Their inclusion seems a little forced. Maybe it’s a necessary part because of Bard’s role but their inclusion still didn’t feel very substantial.
Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #1 (Published by Marvel; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Following on from Hawkeye & Deadpool #0, this second issue (numbering notwithstanding) from writer Gerry Duggan doesn’t quite have the same meta-awareness of art-driven storytelling as the first issue, but it’s a whole lot of fun. Somehow reconciling the laconic persona of Matt Fraction’s Hawkguy with the hyperkinetic former X-Man, the genius of this issue is running a buddy comedy action sequence, while the “other” Hawkeye Kate Bishop quietly gains forward momentum on their whodunit case. Matteo Lolli is clearly having a ball drawing Kate, complete in a nice Halloween costume gag as Hawkeye from TV’s M*A*S*H, and it’s his grounded levity that gives the book much of its sentiment. There’s a surprisingly large amount of that two, with the rather unusual partnership forming at the center bringing gooey chunks to the cookies our hearts.
Thanos: A God Up There Listening #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Continuing on from the events of Infinity, this slightly misleadingly titled series follows Thanos’s son, Thane, as he learns about his heritage. This is the latest of Marvel’s digital “Infinite” comics to see print, and like many of its predecessors, the story does little to impress and just feels like filler designed to keep readers clicking through the flashy panel transitions. Therein lies the big problem—all of this digital magic is lost in the conversion to print. Iban Coello’s art here certainly is pretty, but the layouts and pacing are incredibly awkward in print. It’s like playing a badly-ported video game. I’m a big print aficionado, but I’d definitely say to go digital with this one.
Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): With its sprawling cast, Rick Remender's tale reads like trying to cram an Escalade's load of subplots into a Civic. A scene of a rampaging Red Onslaught is interrupted by a grudge match between Havok and Cyclops. The opening fight scene has strangely wordy dialogue: in the heat of battle, would characters really take the time to explain prescribed actions at length, and crack this many jokes? Adam Kubert, with his heavily inked diagonal hashes and characters' eyes drawn without pupils, has a pleasing style similar to Gabriel Hernandez Walta's Magneto. This oversized issue never focuses on any one protagonist for very long; one-liners abound from the likes of Quentin Quire, Genesis, and Iron Fist. Axis #1 tries so hard to include everyone, we end up sympathizing with no one.
Wytches #1 (Published by Marvel; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): If the all-star team of writer Scott Snyder, artist Jock and finest-colorist-in-the-business Matt Hollingsworth wasn’t enough of a drawcard, then the atmospheric spooks and slow-building tension should be. Wytches begins with a violent act, and like many of the best horror stories, a family moving to a new house far from their old lives. On one hand, there’s a straightforward story about starting new chapters, overcoming anxiety, bullying, and overcoming past tragedies. Yet Jock’s art is laden with imagery that hints at (and, at other times, positively rips the innards out of) something more sinister. It’s the versatility of the art that sets it apart, from the quieter clean line-art moments between father and daughter, enhanced with Hollingsworth’s pastel colored shades. Yet they too explode into chaos when needed, making for a chilling piece of modern horror that knows all the right buttons to push.
Earth 2: World’s End #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Some people are going to complain that the first half of World’s End #1 is too much recap, but writers Daniel H. Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, and Mike Johnson are able to add subtle details that will satisfy anyone picking this up. Though the narrative drags, particularly through the middle, there’s an equal mix of important exposition, heartwarming memories, and exciting combat that synthesizes into an overall strong issue. The success of this book is really in the characters' interactions—it’s great to finally see Kara and Helena meeting up with Lois and Thomas and to see the entire cast hit their stride now that they've worked together for a significant amount of time. There’s a lot of character development still ready to be explored and more conflict on the way, especially now that World’s End has officially started. The entire team has set themselves up for success—now let’s just see what they can do with it.
Punks: The Comic #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): An anthropomorphic bulldog, a skeleton, a fist-headed man, and Abe Lincoln rent a house together and constantly fight and humiliate each other. Weird doesn’t begin to describe this concept. Those familiar with the original series will find lots to love here, while those who only know Fialkov’s more serious work will be baffled, but highly amused. Kody Chamberlain’s artwork is absolutely bizarre—he’s switched to a trippy photo collage style that looks stunning and really enhances the wackiness of the whole experience. There’s even a classic Punks story in the back, for those of us who missed out first time. This comic is all sorts of messed up and one of the funniest things I’ve read all year.
Birthright #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): If the first four pages of this book don’t have you hooked from there, I don’t know how else Joshua Williamson could have written that fantastic opening. In just those pages, we get the basis of the conflict, a family to root for and a reason to keep turning that page. Williamson is able to balance the mystery with emotion to keep us engaged with the story until the main character Mikey returns. The only drawback of this issue is that the story moves too quickly. Williamson tries to do too much, and things are glossed over that I hope are returned to in future issues, particularly with how the family dynamic changed and evolved when Mikey went missing. There’s such rich story to explore there. The story gets a bit murky when Williamson brings the otherworldly aspect into the narrative, but artists Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas are able to keep everything visually grounded, which is extremely helpful when we’re thrust into a world we don’t know or recognize. Regardless, Birthright looks to be a comic to watch; with that twist at the end of the issue, I don’t know how you could possibly stop yourself from wanting to pick up issue two.
Fraggle Rock #1 (Published by Archaia; Review by Michael Moccio; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): This all-ages comic book is definitely something to watch, even if you—like me—have never read or seen anything to do with Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock before. Writer Kate Leth does a great job in making us care about the protagonist Gobo and having us understand exactly what his motivations are. Before Leth gets into the story, she gets us get behind Gobo because he’s so easy to identify with, and lets him drive the story forward. She writes with an impeccable balance between whimsy, light-hearted and serious all at once. This is especially true once the main conflict comes into light, where Gobo must take a frightful journey to find the cause of the drought. Jake Myler makes the visuals just as fun as the writing, and it’s clear that Leth and Myler are completely on the same page. Fraggle Rock #1 has a slow start, but this is a great first issue to the new series that will leave readers excited for more.
October Faction #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Edward Kaye; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It’s The Addams Family meets Umbrella Academy in Steve Niles and Damien Worm’s latest horror/monster comic. It’s a solid first issue, but it feels like there are just a couple too many character introductions crammed in to get a good feel for the cast. Otherwise, there’s several rich seeds planted here that could grow into interesting stories in future issues. Worm’s artwork is heavily influenced by both Ben Templesmith and Menton3’s styles, which isn’t to say it is derivative, more of a tribute/homage, perhaps? In any case, the style suits the story nicely and enhances the emo/goth feel of the piece. A good debut that will get you in the mood for Halloween.