Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday rapids? Best Shots has you covered, with nine Rapid-Fire Reviews for your reading pleasure! So let's head a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, as Mighty Michael Moccio takes a look at the latest issue of Star Wars...
Star Wars #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Michael Moccio; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Jason Aaron continues his phenomenal work with the most recent issue of Star Wars. The dual storylines of Luke Skywalker pursuing Ben Kenobi's history and Leia searching for a new Rebel base with Han Solo work well together, which is a testament to how well Aaron can balance the characters. Boba Fett is by far the star of this issue, with Aaron and artist John Cassaday pulling out all the stops to make him feel as big and bad as he does in the movies. Fett gets all the best moments and lines, torturing his way to information on Kenobi and Skywalker. It helps that Cassaday drew Fett with such purpose--the poses and the way Fett moves makes it feel like you're in the scene; when Fett points a blaster at Luke, you'll feel like he's pointing it at you. Star Wars #5 is one of the best issues yet, especially for Leia Organa and Han, whose arguments are made that much better knowing that they'll one day get together.
Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Everyone’s favorite Amazon battles a vampiric Clown Prince of Crime in Convergence: Wonder Woman #2, a shlocky and unashamedly old-school tale written by the living legend Larry Hama. Convergence has hit a pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, and Telos has chosen the vampire villains of Moench and Jones’ Batman & Dracula: Red Rain universe for her to do battle with. Aaron Lopresti clearly had fun rendering pale and fanged versions of Batman’s rogue gallery, and his Wonder Woman is exactly as intimidating as she should be. Writer Larry Hama demonstrates his knack for the chuckle-worthy turn of phrase here (“I want his vital juices!”), liberally drenching the issue in hammy dialogue you’ll either loathe or adore. It’s dumb fun, but Hama’s honesty and heart draws you in: the characters are likable and the stakes are believable. The ending’s a bit too sudden, a casualty of Hama’s antiquated style of comic story-telling, but otherwise Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 is a big slice of fun.
A-Force #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10):Welcome to Arcadia. Amidst the fragmented hodgepodge of universes that comprises Battleworld, Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina bring us a new hero team composed of Marvel’s strongest ladies. Although things initially seem perfect in the sunny land of Arcadia, the harsh nature of Doctor Doom’s grip on Battleworld soon threatens the A-Force’s ability to protect their citizens and each other… Teamwork and obedience are the two key-words that run through Bennett and Wilson’s script, which competently juggles two distinct tones of seriousness. A light threat, easily dispatched by A-Force, soon gives way to darker forces, but Bennett and Wilson control this tonal downslide with fleshed-out characterization and solid relationship dynamics. When Jorge Molina takes center-stage, such as when a spiked shark explodes from Arcadia’s crystal waters, he excels. Molina’s panels are well-composed, but his faces seem a little inconsistent at times. A solid cliffhanger rounds out the intriguing A-Force #1, which is another imaginative and original concept for Marvel’s Secret Wars event.
Convergence #7 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): Have you ever said the same word over and over again, until it just stopped making sense? That's basically what has happened with Convergence, which has so many different iterations of Superman and the rest of the DC Universe that it doesn't add up to any narrative conclusion. Scott Lobdell and Jeff King have heroes fighting heroes until it suits their script to pull the plug on it, thanks to former villain Telos now teaming up with special friend Nightwing to save the day. But after the umpteenth time of reality collapsing in the DCU, it's hard to justify - or even get concerned with - a Warlord villain getting exploded by an ex-Green Lantern, and wreaking havoc with a bunch of time travel powers in the middle. Aaron Lopresti's artwork looks decent with inker Mark Morales, but besides a few cheat pages that try to goose some action, this isn't a story that suits visual storytelling very well.
Jem and the Holograms #3 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Sometimes, when you have a set of characters and personalities that are exceptionally well-designed, you can get away with something that's less of a story and more of a hangout. That's Jem and the Holograms #3, which focuses a lot on the band's romantic comings and goings, with a sweet, engaging script by Kelly Thompson and some super-expressive artwork by Sophie Campbell. Thompson's story is some very soapy stuff, as Kimber pines over her crush - Stormer, who just happens to play for rival band the Misfits - while Jerrica and Rio have a first date for the ages. Occasionally, it might be a little too bright and poppy with M. Victoria Robado's colors, but on the whole, this interlude before the Holograms' big charity performance is a fun way to get to know the band. If you've been wondering what the hubbub is about this book, this is the place to jump in.
Master of Kung Fu #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): W. Haden Blackman and Dalibor Talajic have grabbed the Marvel Universe and told it to throw on their gis in Master of Kung Fu #1, a humorous reimagining of one of Marvel’s most under-utilized heroes. Emperor Zu of the Ten Rings rule the mystical land of K’un Lun with an iron fist, yet his son is a drunken vagrant. When Shang-Chi finally fights back, a rebellion brews… Blackman’s script is equal parts action-packed and humorous, and her fresh new take on K’un Lun is sure to stick. There’s a few familiar faces from across the Marvel Universe here, reimagined as martial artists and thrown into a fast-paced and fancy free magic-tinged kung fu story. Penciler Dalibor Talajic’s clean and expressive characters effectively communicate the important beats of Blackman’s story. He captures the feel of a pulpy, supernatural ancient China without leaning too hard on the aesthetic of the '70s kung fu explosion. All in all, Master of Kung Fu #1 is a welcome return for Shang-Chi, as well as a solid introduction into a promising realm with loads of potential.
Oh, Killstrike #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Kat Vendetti; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): New dad Jared finds his valuable copy of Killstrike #1 and watches its titular hero inexplicably climb out of the pages--and Killstrike can only return if Jared joins him on a mission. This issue's self-deprecating humor pays homage to the kind of '90s Liefeldian characters who "only consume beer and turkey legs" and are motivated purely by vengeance, and its caricatured art hilariously captures a grotesquely muscular and obligatorily pouched Killstrike. But while its wit and premise land, Oh, Killstrike #1's execution errs in its clunky dialogue; hints of a fatherhood theme and Jared's parental anxiety are hidden under his repetitive bewilderment and Killstrike's weirdly convenient understanding of this unlikely duo's upcoming journey, making Oh, Killstrike #1 less of a smooth read despite its charm.
Convergence: Justice League of America #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The best Convergence tie-ins were the ones that kept their art team intact for both issues, and I'm calling it now - Convergence: Justice League of America has to be the most fun out of all the tie-ins, namely because it doesn't come off as completely ridiculous in the concept. Fabian Nicieza gives the Justice League some much-needed tension by utilizing Ralph Dibny and the rest of the Detroit Leaguers - there's a little bit of a nod to why can't DC just use the heavy hitters, but it's great that Nicieza gives these often-overlooked heroes some great opportunities to show how powerful they truly are. It's also wonderful to see artist Chriscross in for a second issue, as his characters have just the right amount of realism and bounce. While occasionally colorist Snakebite's work can be a little garish, and the ending may be a little abrupt (what do you expect out of a two-issue story?), this is definitely the most fun out of all of DC's books this week.
UFOlogy #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): James Tynion IV and Noah J. Yuenkel continue their sci-fi tale with Malcolm, one of the two teen protagonists, investigating a mysterious death. While we sympathize with Malcolm and Becky's shock and confusion, the story's slow pace makes us feel like we're still reading a prologue. We're aware a supernatural threat from the past has returned, but we aren't convinced that Malcolm or Becky face imminent harm. Adam Metcalfe's highly saturated colors fit the otherworldly quality of UFOlogy. I like how Matthew Fox frames the scene in Becky's hospital room and when Malcolm sneaks into a morgue. If you like a slow burn mystery, UFOlogy offers it, but we're still waiting for the hook to drop.