Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let's kick off today's column with Jolly Justin Partridge, III, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Detective Comics...
Detective Comics #43 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): What good is a mech suit against dirty cops? That’s the dilemma that faces the new Batman and his team in Detective Comics #43. After being rolled for the power core of his suit, Jim Gordon and Team Batman are facing down leaks and scrambling to keep Gotham VIPs safe from the assassin group La Morte, while the assassins guild is forming an unholy alliance with Joker’s Daughter. Writer/colorist Brian Buccellato does a fine job juggling the street-level police work with the high-flying superheroics aided by the Michael Lark-esque pencils of Fernando Blanco. Detective Comics has been one of DC’s sure-fire Batman titles for a while now, and now that Jim Gordon is in the suit, the streak is still alive and well.
Ms. Marvel #17 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Robert Reed; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out 10): Carol and Kamala finally meet in Ms. Marvel #17 and the pairing lives up to the hype, thanks to Adrian Alphona’s expressive art and G. Willow Wilson’s touching script. There’s a good balance in tone here between the humorous adoration Kamala shows Captain Marvel and the somber fact that the world is ending. Unfortunately, that balance doesn’t fully extend to the plot of the issue. While it’s still an inspiring moment when Carol advises Kamala, “Your fate – what you decide to do right now – is still up to you,” the task of rescuing Kamala’s brother doesn’t quite feel like the right thing to offset the end-of-the-world stakes of a “Last Days” tie-in. Adrian Alphona’s stylized artwork really brings a bit of zany fun to the proceedings, from background gags like a group of body-painted civilians spelling “H-L-E-P” to the fun use of Kamala’s powers to offset the height difference between her and Carol. Ms. Marvel #17 is not perfect, but it maintains the youthful energy that has made the title so endearing.
Omega Men #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): There's no other book like Omega Men at not just DC, but in terms of superhero comic books in general. Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda have an almost aggressively anti-widescreen approach to this book, almost purposely keeping us at a distance with seven- and nine-panel pages. But there's a method to this madness, as King has such a dense, layered style to his storytelling, as we meet a a bloodthirsty, sword-swinging princess that the Omega Men are called in to kidnap. For what should be a simple smash-and-grab, King gives his characters some great personality - I love the flirtatious verbal sparring that Tigorr and Princess Kalista as they cut one another, and Scrapps fangirling over this tyrant princess is a great beat. Bagenda's layouts may take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you'll marvel at the amount of detail he maintains, especially with some gorgeous, Richard Isanove-esque colorwork by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Combine a strong new character with a great twist, and this is the best issue of Omega Men yet.
Civil War #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Prepare for battle! Tensions are running high after last issue's peace talk between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark turned sour, and now both sides are preparing for war. Writer Charles Soule replaces last issue's quiet political machinations with espionage of the highest order here, which removes the unique feel that the original Civil War seemed to have. Still, characterization is on point for this bitter and shellshocked band of Marvel's finest. Visually, Leinil Francis Yu knocks it out of the park with his nuanced facial studies, his wide, vertically stacked panels and some thoughtful yet subtle redesigns. Finishing off the package, Sunny Gho's moody colors of deep orange and blue lend an appropriately cinematic feel to Civil War. All in all, another compelling cliffhanger combined with a quality script and some fantastic artwork make Civil War #2 one to recommend.
Broken World #3 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): There's a lot of potential here for a fascinating story, but it feels like too many scenes were crammed into too few pages. Elena is a woman searching for her missing husband and child. Frank J. Barbiere moves Elena from conversation to conversation at a rapid pace, and the effect is more jarring than intriguing. However, Barbiere, Christopher Peterson, and Marissa Louise create an idyllic town that is so eerie, we feel trepidation as we explore it alongside Elena. Peterson's minute details, such as components of Elena's motorcycle and falling leaves, add realism to the setting. Broken World is a thoughtful mystery that lets readers experience one survivor's grief, uncertainty, and quest for answers.
Batman Beyond #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Three issues in, and Batman Beyond is in a much stronger place than when it started. Whilst the premise initially seemed too rickety a foundation to build a solid book on, writer Dan Jurgens and penciller Bernard Chang have been working overtime to make "Tim Drake: Batman of the Future" into a compelling title. Jurgens clearly had fun here playing out a worst-case scenario for his Skynet-meets-Orwell dystopia of thought-control and vicious robots. Likewise, Chang commands attention with a duo of eye-catching double-page spreads that still manage to facilitate story, justifying them a lot more legitimately than if they were pure eye-candy. Colorist Marcelo Maiolo continues his unique, visceral approach by simplifying his palette down to almost cel-shaded reds, yellows and white to give a shock of pure light to Chang's hard-hitting panels. With #3, Batman Beyond is quickly turning from poorly conceived oddity to a stunning and distinctive comic book.
Spider-Island #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s an odd thing, but of the many Secret Wars tie-ins to date, Spider-Island has perhaps best captured the spirit of paying tribute to the Marvel Universe as a whole. Venom has taken totems from some of the most classic stories to alter the spider-infected Avengers to such wonderful treats as a werewolf Captain America, a Lizard Hulk (“Hulk feel funny”), Iron Goblin, or a vampire Captain Marvel. Christos Gage’s concept is the right kind of nutty, a perfect example of a What If? tale that stays true to the characters while playing with them shamelessly. As such, artist Paco Diaz has a ball with the mashup characters, and the sight of a Giant Man-Spider is something you won’t forget in a hurry.
The Spirit #2 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Sammy and Ebony are hitting the beat in search of our long-lost hero in The Spirit #2. Writer Matt Wagner wastes little time setting the former sidekicks on the trail of the missing Denny Colt by having them search the Spirit’s graveyard lair and later confronting one of the Spirit’s flamboyant rogues, Carrion. While Sammy and Ebony are still the lead detectives in The Spirit #2, Wagner and series artist Dan Schkade treat us to a lengthy Spirit flashback to the last time he put Carrion down before his disappearance. The Spirit #2 brings us no closer to solving the mystery of the missing Denny Colt, but it still finds pathos and narrative momentum with the other characters that used to play second fiddle to the man in the mask. Central City may still be without its avenging angel, but the city, and his solo title, is still well protected by his friends and loved ones.
Guardians of Knowhere #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): The first issue of Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato’s alternative to Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy narrowly missed hitting the mark, but this time the gap is a little bigger. The introduction of villain Yotat merely provides an excuse for a hulking villain to storm through this freshly created realm, although it never feels as though there is a purpose or even a plot at times. Deodato’s art, on the other hand, is absolutely gorgeous, a swirling mix of dark shadows and chaos, elegantly creating a slaughterhouse with Rocket and Drax behind the violence. Disappointing given the pedigree of all involved, and further proof that a winning team of heroes is a delicate balance to try and recapture after the genie has been let out of the bottle.
Bat-Mite #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Dan Jurgens pushes the boundaries on this all-ages book at times, throwing in references and innuendoes that would undoubtedly soar over the top of smaller readers’ heads. Yet this multiversal imp, while not being quite the meta character, has a childlike view of the world and thus gives us a fresh perspective on tired superhero tropes, such as this wink-at-the-audience obligatory first meeting fight between Robin and Bat-Mite. The stakes are inconsequential, rubber banding us from stoner jokes to Z-Grade villains, in the delightful cartoony style of Corin Howell. With a dose of Scooby Doo (literally in the case of the Shaggy-esque character Weed), this is a positively fun salute to all things DC across the Multiverse.
Dark Corridor #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Skewing the timeline like Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, cartoonist Rich Tomasso brings old-school crime comic books back with his latest offering in Dark Corridor. It tells the story of a city run by the mob, but who are being quickly killed by a secret league of female assassins. What starts as old friends coming together to rob a dead former associate sparks the beginning of the conspiracy, which cuts to a separate, but similar, incident. While Tomasso's artistic style might seem overly simplistic, the detail is how the story is told is anything but. Tomasso uses an almost noir film style of panel composition, building suspense along the way till the last page. The biggest problem is that there's no indication that this is an ongoing from the ending, which hopefully will be remedied in future issues. Tomasso balances this retro crime feeling with his trademark indie sensibilities that distinguishes it from Image's other crime books in their roster.
Siege #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Unlike many other revivals of Marvel's biggest summer events, Siege has little in common with the 2009 event that shares its logo and namesake. Instead, writer Kieron Gillen has boiled the word down to its dictionary definition and rebuilt it around the core of the Battleworld: The Shield. With 20 days until Thanos comes to tear Battleworld asunder, Shield commander Abigail Brand has a lot on her plate. Gillen attacks Siege #2 with his trademark mix of humor and pathos. Aesthetically, artist Filipe Andrade's ink-stained style is an appropriate accompaniment to Gillen's dark subject matter. Cleverly, Andrade switches to an intricate and clean style for more complex splash pages, showing off his artistic range. Equally, Rachel Rosenberg's expressionist and painterly colors also give way to a cleaner style for artist Andrade's intricate splash pages, rounding out a creative team capable of tackling a variety of tones. Appropriately, Siege #2 is set at the very centre of Battleworld, because it sits ahead of the pack in quality.