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 with Jocular Jake Baumgart, as he takes a look at the first issue of Cyborg...
Cyborg #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): First issues are never easy to crack. There is always a lot of pressure to establish so much of the story in those brief few pages of an arc and shove in the arc of the single issue. Luckily, David F. Walker and Ivan Reis's Cyborg #1 jumps through all the necessary hoops for success. Although some of the establishing notes - a new cybernetic villain and socially-inept scientists - feel a little bland, the potential is here for Cyborg to be a blockbuster series that holds its own with the rest of the Justice League. Cyborg is in a unique position as a character to be rebuilt (pun intended) for a new audience and this first issue successfully demonstrates that with minor weaknesses. Walker fleshes out Victor Stone's world, which hasn't been substantially done since Geoff Johns' Teen Titans run. Ivan Reis is the perfect choice for a book with this much technology on the page, and his linework on the titular character keeps the eye busy without feeling tedious.
All-New Hawkeye #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It's refreshing to see Clint and Kate still doing the right thing, even though it may not work out in any way other than bad for them. All-New Hawkeye #4 displays Clint and Kate’s big hearts concurrently with flashbacks to Clint’s days with the traveling crime circus that raised him and his brother. Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez work in perfect tandem with the flashback panels taking up the majority of the page while the real time action of Clint, Kate and the special kids are anchored at the bottom of the page. Both stories compliment each other beautifully and really inform Clint’s protective nature stemming from his upbringing. All-New Hawkeye #4 shows that this creative team is more than comfortable thinking outside the box to deliver a heartfelt tale starring our favorite archers.
Archie vs. Sharknado #1 (Published by Archie Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): As Dean Pelton said, it's nice to know that there is a floor on this thing. Easily the lesser of the Archie vs. titles, Archie vs. Sharknado #1 clumsily shoehorns the Riverdale gang into the campy carnage of Sharknado. While Sharknado's Anthony C. Ferrante keeps the carnage and cameos coming, his script seems more concerned with shark-murdering than anything else. One bright spot however is the art team of Dan Parent, inker Rich Koslowski, and colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Casey Silver who go out of there way to make Archie vs. Sharknado #1 look like a true blue Archie adventure. With Archie vs. Sharknado #1 you get what you pay for and what you get is over the top camp and not much else.
Grayson #10 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The spy life suits Dick Grayson, perhaps a little too well. After decking his partner and absconding with a precious necklace, Dick has gone off the radar in hopes of finding out just who is killing Spyral field agents and pinning the murders on him. Writer Tim Seeley keeps the tension dialed up and the characters rudderless as no one knows who to trust and what their motives are; a true hallmark of the spy genre. Artist Mikel Janin has vastly improved since the earlier issues, rendering much of the action with smooth unhurried pencils and drop dead gorgeous character design. Even Lex Luthor cuts the profile of a leading man as he shakes down Dick for his elusive prize. Grayson is a title that no one expected to be this good, but yet, 10 issues in, it stands as one of DC’s most surprising and consistent hits.
Weirdworld #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): This title is unabashed fun. Jason Aaron is doing his best Conan riff with a forgotten Marvel analogue in Arkon, and Mike Del Mundo’s art is simply inspiring. The plot is fairly simple in this issue - a straightforward prison breakout - and the book is better for it. Arkon wants his dragon back and he wants to go home: let the punching commence. Mike Del Mundo’s art is the real draw here. The artist gives us an absolute spectacle, designing his panels in ways that mirror film more closely than anything we see in traditional "Big Two" comics, and his painted style is a perfect fit for Weirdworld’s high fantasy setting. Now, can we get an ongoing?
Fight Club 2 #3 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): Cameron Stewart's artwork may look as gorgeous as ever, but Chuck Palahniuk's monologues in Fight Club 2 are starting to wear a little thin. There's next to nil plot progression in this comic, which makes it come across as not only incredibly self-indulgent, but even worse, it doesn't really give a talent like Stewart much to do. Perhaps not as self-indulgent as including yourself as a character, but hey, at least it's a little bit risky - which up till now, this story hasn't been. Stewart's character designs look clean and dramatic, but beyond a mean-spirited prank on a homeless man, there's very little memorable about this book's story. Only diehards need apply here.
The Flash #42 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): This is a book that feels like it’s going in reverse. Rob Venditti and Van Jensen’s narrative lacks the excitement and stakes of previous Flash stories so they go back to the well. Zoom is wreaking havoc again. Barry’s father is involved again. Even the final page reveal leads to a familiar place. I have trouble finding anything innovative or exciting in these pages, because it feels like a riff on things we’ve seen a thousand times before during the course of Barry Allen’s history. Artist Brett Booth really tries to elevate a dull script, but he overdoes it. His characters’ body proportions were never going to be accurate, but the lack of traditional layouts to help ground some of the smaller moments in the script makes this title a jumbled mess.
Spider-Woman #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Not the best outing that we’ve seen from Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez in this issue. Hopeless seems to have lost the momentum that he had in the previous arc, and half this book is Jessica and company aimlessly solving cases around the U.S. in a lengthy montage fashion. The humor is still there, but it’s a lot less impactful. Javier Rodriguez’s art is still strong but he doesn’t get a chance to stretch out until the second half of the book when the plot becomes more apparent. It’s clear that he’s really settled into this character and her world and that’s a major positive for the title as a whole. But good art can’t overcome a passive script. Here’s hoping they up the ante next month.
IX Generation #4 (Published by Top Cow Productions; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): There's definitely a steep learning curve to Top Cow's IX Generation series, which puts an almost Legion of Superheroes spin on their sprawling Cyberforce and Artifacts mythologies. That said, diehard Cow fans will love the action and intrigue, as Hades begins her assault on the rest of the IX units. Matt Hawkins spins together a sci-fi Greek pantheon that really grabs your interest, particularly as the various Artifacts give some nice cache to characters like the Blood Sword-wielding Hephaestus. That said, for people who aren't as well-versed in Top Cow lore, this book might be an insurmountable read, even with some gorgeous artwork from Stjepan Sejic. Sejic is a beast, and he's ultimately the main reason you should be reading this book - even if you don't know what's going on, it's hard to deny how cool an aerial dragon battle looks. Definitely worth a look.
Justice League Gods and Monsters: Batman #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10):Bruce Timm's animated creations make the jump once more to comics with Justice League Gods and Monsters: Batman #1. A bumper-sized collection of the first three issues of this previously digital-only tie-in to the forthcoming animated feature, writer J.M DeMatteis and artist Matthew Dow Smith join Timm to envisage a noir-steeped alternate universe for the vampiric Kirk Langstrom: Man Bat. Re-imagined as a tortured anti-hero, Langstrom's Batman is a horrific figure whose ever-present monologue blights this otherwise promising horror and heroes mash-up. Visually, Dow Smith's grimy pencils are utterly overwhelmed by some too-heavy inking. He's sacrificed visual clarity here to preserve the issue's tone, leaning so hard into horror that character and background alike merge into blackness. Atop Dow Smith's work, Jordie Bellaire's simplistic coloring exacerbates the visual muddiness. There's a solid story underneath all the jank, and the generous pages-per-dollar count helps a little, but overall, Justice League Gods and Monsters: Batman #1 is just too rough to recommend.
Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Peter Quill's making the best of his time on Battleworld, hiding out from the forces of Doom in a mixed-up Manhattan whilst moonlighting as a Walt Disney song-covering crooner. Sam Humphries writes an energetic and witty script, placing Star-Lord in a Ralph Bakshi cartoon-inspired cartoon jazz club. Alti Firmansyah's artwork is absolutely gorgeous, perfectly nailing the tone of Humphries' script with her wide-eyed and Disney-esque designs that ooze vitality. Colorist Jessica Kholine also knocks it out of the park with dramatically-lit colors that bring out the best in Firmanshyah's lines. Humphries maintains the issue's pace and keeps the reader guessing through some surprising reintroductions of well-known characters (His Elvis-coiffed, smooth-talking Drax is an obvious highlight), all of whom add to the modern fairy tale vibe that Humphries attempts. With Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1, a fresh creative team's finally managed to wring out some fun from the interminably grim dystopia that Battleworld often seems. Next-level artwork and a great script make this issue not to be missed.