Greetings, 'Rama Readers! Ready for your weekly pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off with Rambunctious Richard Gray, as he takes a look at the latest issue of 1872...
1872 #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Western heroes and comic books have always had a great relationship, and the transition of their vigilante successors (that is, superheroes) back into the Old West is an easy one under Gerry Duggan. The deconstructionism of the Marvel Universe highlights the strengths and human frailties of its core heroes, here the length some will go to protect Red Wolf. It really is the Wild West as familiar faces get shot down, and the good guys and bad guys can be as clearly delineated as they like. Nik Verella’s pitch-perfect art is gorgeously dust-covered and ridden off into the sunset by top-shelf colorist Lee Loughridge, a knowing mix of dime store funny book charm and a modern impressionistic view of the genre. Much of this feels like it is leading up to a major conclusion, and the killer costume reveal in the final pages might be the ship that launched a thousand cosplayers.
The Flash #44 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Now that all that pesky exposition is out of the way, Robert Venditti, Van Jensen and Brett Booth step up their game with an action-packed, if admittedly low-calorie, issue of The Flash. Now that Vendetti and Jensen don't have to ask audiences to stretch their suspensions of disbelief with Zoom's band of speed-infused criminals, we can just revel in watching Barry Allen try to take them down. Vendetti and Jensen give Barry some nice problems to deal with, but Brett Booth's artwork might almost be too kinetic here, not giving Barry enough moments to actually react to the peril in front of him. What's good about this issue is that a lot happens here, from Wally West finally having his superheroic origin to a touching scene between Singh and Piper. Definitely an improvement.
Fury #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10):The more things change, the more they stay the same. David F. Walker pens a poignant tale of two Furys set on the front lines of the racially charged 1965 Watts riots. Whilst hunting down Josh Glenn: Hate-Monger in 2015, Nick Fury Jr. is unexpectedly transported to 1965. After meeting his father, they team up to track down the racist villain. Walker's dividing narrative succinctly sums up the differences and similarities between father and son, bringing them both together at the issue's mid-point for a solid time travel team-up tale which pulls double-duty as a period piece and current events tale. Each Fury's personality shines through the page thanks to Walker's solid grasp of characterisation and dialogue, making for a satisfying and thought-provoking story. Visually, Lee Ferguson's rounded and impossibly wide-mouthed character designs lack detail, whilst colorist Jason Keith sticks to convention with the liberal use of dark blue and orange that also comes across as flat and texture-less. All in all, Fury #1 is a powerful one-shot that'll stick with you long after you put it down, even if the artwork within is average.
Justice League 3001 #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): You know, I haven't always been the biggest fan of Justice League 3001, but man, there's something really nice about this interlude of an issue. Artist Scott Kolins supercharges this issue as the Flash runs a solo training mission on the arctic planet of Nirvana. J.M DeMatteis and Keith Giffen just set up the stakes and get out of Kolins' way, and that's to this book's benefit - it's great watching Teri tear out at superspeed, as she winds up crossing paths with the Mirror Master. Sure, the stakes aren't the highest, and Teri actually winds up escaping her troubles off-panel, but the heart-to-heart between her and the Mirror Master is sweet, and the artwork is just out-of-this-world. Definitely a high point for this title.
Kanan #6 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): The upgrade from miniseries to ongoing comes with the title being abbreviated from Kanan the Last Padawan, and the continuity leaps to bring us up to the Star Wars: Rebels television continuity. Writer Greg Weisman’s shift isn’t necessarily the best move, as at least part of the charm of the first five issues was finding out more about the titular former Jedi’s past. Yet the spirit (or should we say spirits) literally come to life in this epilogue chapter, as he returns with his new friends to Kaller, the planet where he lost his master. Artist Jacopo Camagni captures the aesthetic of the TV series without aping the look completely, actually making us wish the original series was rendered in cell animation with these models. A ghostly final scene is pure Star Wars, and it seems that this narrative shift is in keeping with the bigger story the expanded comics series is telling at the moment.
Batgirl #44 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): It's ironic that DC has enlisted Bengal as a guest artist this issue, as Batgirl faces the Velvet Tiger and all her striped feline friends. This is a great, action-packed issue, and perhaps even more importantly, Bengal seems to really be hitting his groove, subtly fitting in his style to flow more seamlessly from Babs Tarr's work. It also doesn't hurt that Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart pack this comic book to the brim - in particular, I love Barbara' blossoming relationship with former Batwing Luke Fox, as well as her roommate Frankie's gradual transformation into a familiar superheroic codename, complete with remote controlled motorcycles and drones. All in all, a showstopper of an issue.
Deadpool Vs. Thanos #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It was the kind of idea that should have worked better as a one-shot, but Tim Seeley’s unlikely buddy story is buoyed by the truly bizarre love triangle between the titular duo and their mutual amore, Death. For an issue that is mostly a series of scraps between the Guardians of the Galaxy and some Halfworld rejects, there are a surprising number of references (by Deadpool) to Thanos’ (in)abilities in the boudoir. To artist Elmo Bondoc’s credit, this punchy gabfest has a rhythm and a flow to the layouts, even if some of the detailing in character faces gets lost in the chaos at times. It’s hard to complain in a book called Deadpool Vs. Thanos when the bloodletting we crave fills frames in a frenzy of fists.