Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has your back, with this week's installment of your Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with Melodious Marlene Bonnelly, as she takes a look at the first issue of Deathstroke...
Deathstroke #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Marlene Bonnelly; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): I don’t know why the amount of gore in Deathstroke #1 surprised me. The titular character is a notoriously efficient assassin, after all, so my expectations should have probably leaned toward the “incredibly bloody” end of the spectrum. Once you get past the shock of exposed brain matter, however, the issue is actually pretty interesting and aptly loyal to its “Gods of War” subtitle. We get a healthy heaping of gun-toting and sword-swinging action, a touch of passion and even a brief glimpse into Slade’s moral compass and how he views himself. We’re also introduced to a few of his most trusted allies - surprising, since I didn’t even think he had real allies. It’s not quite the standard find-and-eliminate-the-target story, but rather a setup for the more elaborate plot that will presumably explore important aspects of Deathstroke’s shady past. Crowded, obnoxious speech bubbles and cheesy dialogue aside, I want to read more.
AXIS: Hobgoblin #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10):This issue has a fair number of caveats for someone to truly enjoy Roderick Kingsley as he moves from villain to motivational superhero. But, if you're comfortable in your recent Spider-Man lore and have a soft spot for referential humor with a post-modern slant. Then yeah, AXIS: Hobgoblin #1 is a pretty darn fun read. While Kevin Shinick's angle on Kingsley and his transformation is an entertaining read, artist Javier Rodriguez takes center stage. There is a dangerous whimsy to his lines that breathes real life into the whole Goblin setting. This is a strange area of the Marvel universe and Rodriguez brings the reader there, without ever becoming comical. The art suggests a character that, for all his speeches, still isn't sure which way he'll finally fall. And it is that quirky danger that makes this one fine read.
The Multiversity: The Just #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The burden of a generation born to superhero parents has been tackled in Kingdom Come and more recently Jupiter’s Legacy, but as Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity lands on Earth-16, we view it through the paparazzi-smeared lenses of modern celebrity journalism. A bored generation populates the caped landscape, until an apparent suicide elevates at least some of its members out of apathy. Morrison nails the arrested development of these characters, while simultaneously deepening the meta connection between the parallel worlds and the comic book that unifies them. Ben Oliver’s style infuses the book with the right level of filtered soap opera realism, drawing the reader completely into the world before releasing us just as the would-be heroes are beginning to break their own vicious cycle.
Memetic #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Kat Vendetti; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): So this is how the world ends: with internet memes. Within hours, millions have seen the Good Times Sloth and felt a sense of euphoria—and there’s something anticipatorily apocalyptic about that. Tynion and Donovan gradually build the momentum of their first chapter as Good Times Sloth is integrated into the world, along with the creeping sense that things are about to go very wrong. And when they do, Memetic #1 turns from suspiciously servile to unnervingly frantic—and it’s brilliant. This team has conjured up something special, from its setting that is recognizable without being contrived or trite, to Donovan’s vivid and expressive characterizations, and to the weirdly iconic Good Times Sloth itself. I’m drawn in the way Memetic’s characters are drawn to that happy little sloth. Don’t miss out on this one.
Catwoman #35 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): This Selina Kyle is a far cry from the overtly sexual Catwoman that helped launched the New 52. Writer Genevieve Valentine gives the character actual stakes in what feels like a lifetime. Saddled with the responsibility of running a crime family that she’s fairly unfamiliar with, Selina Kyle has a lot of prove to herself, her family and even, Bruce Wayne. The new hook is filled with plenty of intrigue, a new supporting cast and solid pacing in its first outing. Garry Brown’s art is a frequent stumbling block, though. His lines are too scattered or scratchy at points which causes him to miss opportunities to deliver good expressions in pertinent situations. But overall, coupled with Lee Loughridge’s colors, Catwoman feels like a crime noir title and that’s a good thing for a book that had little identity before.
Avengers #37 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It's a new Civil War in the Marvel Universe, and it's through that lens that Jonathan Hickman has really given a nice boost to his run on Avengers. We first saw Reed Richards and his Illuminati hiding out, but with this issue, we get to see the other side of the debate - Steve Rogers, lording over S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside the Falcon, Captain Marvel and the Invisible Woman. Mike Deodato's shadowy artwork is pitch-perfect for this gloomy concept, and what he really sells here is the anger - there's a real violation behind all of Steve's (self-)righteousness, and watching him lash out against a message from the Illuminati is a real highlight. "Time Runs Out" might be the kind of kick this series needed all along.
Arkham Manor #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10):There is a lot to build towards in Arkham Manor #1. As a result, writer Gerry Duggan has a tough time keeping the action moving. Still, this is a title that wants to slow things down a bit, to play with the psychological side of Batman and his collection of characters. To that end, Duggan is succeeding and reminding the readers that it's not just the suit that makes the hero. Visually, Shawn Crystal has a unique style that doesn't yet feel quite right. His lines and panel design feel large, but lack a sense of claustrophobia that would go a long way in selling the tone of this title. Still, there is potential there with his exaggerated character features. Arkham Manor isn't the instant breath of fresh air that was Gotham Academy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is a title that wants the slow build and it has a creative team that should be able to get us there.
She-Hulk #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): While She-Hulk sadly won't be with us too much longer, it's almost heartening to see that this book hasn't lost an ounce of momentum. Charles Soule's legal expertise is on full display here, as he has Jen Walters fight against her greatest foe yet: the courtroom choreography of Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil. Javier Pulido is the secret weapon here, varying up his panels in some very interesting ways (such as a nine-panel layout in the first page, where Matt is almost dwarfed by the strength of his legal kung fu). The last five pages are a nice respite from just talking heads (however pretty they might be), as Pulido is able to have our two superheroic lawyers leap around the city at night. It feels like a conclusion is coming up next month, but as far as middle issues go, Soule has given us enough lawyer flair to make this worth a read.
Batman Eternal #29 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): the return to the Arkham Storyline hurts this installment of Sternal because the outcome has been known for months and the way we get there isn’t all that interesting. The Batwing/Deacon Blackfire plot has easily been the weakest of this book’s many threads but hopefully, this means we’ve closed the door on it to some extent. There’s just too much in the plot and Ray Fawkes gives us a lame duck Riddler riddle that pales in comparison to what we’ve just seen from the character. I like Simon Coleby’s art, though. There are lots of really strong black inks throughout and the panel composition works really well. This issue sets up Arkham Manor but does little to be a satisfying read.
Secret Avengers #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): All of Ales Kot's plot threads start to come back together in Secret Avengers #9, and while there isn't a tremendous amount of progression in this issue, everything feels like it's ready to spring into action. Kot's great strength isn't just the way he remixes series like Hawkeye or even Morrison's All-Star Superman for various thrills and lulz (although he does manage to do both), but the fact that he's able to juggle so many characters and subplots seamlessly, making all of them feel like they have some sort of payoff. Artist Michael Walsh might have drawn his best issue yet, particularly the way he channels David Aja with a one-page Hawkeye sequence, or even the way he nails Clark Gregg's mannerisms with Agent Coulson. Things are only looking up for this sleeper hit.
Red Lanterns #35 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): This series has been so much better than this. With so much of the main cast dead, Guy Gardner is suffering from severe “survivor’s guilt,” and while that seems like a perfect time for him to face-off against the New Gods, this issue follows the formula that “Godhead” tie-ins have thus far. the New Gods show up. They fight a little bit and then they leave before killing the heroes. J. Calafiore provides some nice visuals for the fight scenes but Soule’s script drags. Gardner’s beating himself up and without a strong cast for him to bounce off of, there’s little joy in reading this comic. Obviously, mourning the death of your team/family is not supposed to be a joyous affair, but this one is hampered by the weight of the emotions at play trying to balance with being shoved into a crossover.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): It’s the 30th anniversary of the original Ghostbusters film, and pending all-female reboot notwithstanding, comics and cartoons have kept it alive for the fans since the 1989 sequel. This may not be the first time they have crossed over with fellow New Yorkers the Ninja Turtles, but it might just be the most fun. Writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz delay gratification with a lengthy exposition, but then hit the ground running with twin stories that spectacularly collide in a fashion that honors both franchises. The three distinct art teams consist of Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison, Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, but each covers a separate time/space in the story, so it never seems jarring or uneven. Leaving us on a cliffhanger, we can’t wait to see how the the teams will engage in the rest of the mini-series.
The New 52: Futures End #25 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Futures End #25 keeps right on chugging along. Sure, when completed, the story might read as an epic, universe-spanning adventure, but the intensity is lost in these small 20-page clips. The issue’s strongest aspect is the focus on characters that haven't gotten much time in the New 52 spotlight. However, the time spent with them is so brief that it hardly feels worth it. The story doesn't follow any sort of traditional story structure which lends to its truncated and unfulfilling nature. Each issue reaches its cliff hanger before any character development. Pencilers Jesús Merino and Patrick Zircher do a great job keeping the eye engaged in the duller moments of the story which nostalgic hashing and layouts reminiscent of the DC events of yore.