Greetings, 'Rama readers! Enjoying your NYCC coverage? Best Shots is still hard at work during convention season, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off with Pugnacious Pierce Lydon as he take a look at Batman and Robin Eternal...
Batman and Robin Eternal #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): DC’s back with another weekly effort and James Tynion IV is at the helm. Batman Eternal explored the idea of Gotham’s enduring legacy in the Batman mythos and this title looks to take on Batman’s sidekicks. It’s not perfect. Some aspects don’t work -- Red Hood is still a bad fit for the Bat family and his cardboard cutout “badass” nature is really trite especially in a family of detectives, ninjas and superspies. Tynion does have a lot of fun with the overall family dynamic though. Tony Daniel’s art is a welcome sight. He provides just enough detail to distinguish the various Robins from each other while still calling attention to the fact that they all look creepily similar. If nothing else, there’s enough from Tynion and Daniel here to almost force readers to have to tune in next week (the last page is a real doozy) but I guess that the bare minimum for a story that asking for at least $150 of your hard-earned dollars when all is said and done. Batman and Robin Eternal has started off nicely, but time will tell if it can tell a great story without retreading too much from the last Batman weekly series.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): There’s a lot of content in this oversized relaunch, but the primary story is simply a continuation of the "superior" work Dan Slott has been doing on the title for the last few years. The emphasis on tech and global corporate responsibility has more than a few shades of Iron Man about it, ones that the book readily acknowledges. It’s by no means business as usual, with principal artist Giuseppe Camuncoli getting to cut loose on a Spider-Man-led car chase, and a new costume design that doesn’t deviate too far from the previous incarnation. This is in many ways a culmination and combination of Slott’s Superior Spider-Man with a forward-thinking Peter Parker, and a renewed Prowler team-up that holds lots of promise for the future. Better still, a final tease indicates that Slott isn’t done with his previous stories just yet.
Green Arrow Annual #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 2 out of 10): Superhero comic books typically require a certain degree of tongue in cheek, but Green Arrow #1 takes that a bit too far. Timed ahead of Halloween, this comic by Benjamin Percy and Szymon Kudranski throws the Emerald Archer into a story that tries to splice together A.I.D.S. panic, werewolves and biker gangs. It's lunacy, but not with the sort of genius moments that might make this hokey premise worth it - instead, it's the Roadhouse of Green Arrow werewolf comic books, which spends way too much time explaining its ludicrous premise and expects empty fisticuffs to pay the tab. Kudranski is probably the biggest surprise here, testing out a new art style that seems to emulate Patrick Zircher's work - it's not bad, but it detracts from that creepy, evocative style that made his work such a hit in the first place. All in all, this book isn't quite bad enough to be good, or crazy enough to be worth it.
Doctor Strange #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Jason Aaron takes his titular character very seriously and brings the weird, in a story that both allows new readers to readily jump aboard the Strange bandwagon, as well as expanding the outlook of the Sorcerer Supreme a little more. Aaron takes the time to show us the world through Strange’s eyes, from the mystical realms he travels through to the way that he sees the everyday and cares for the every soul he feels. The former is a chaotic concoction, as Chris Bachalo explodes his inner psyche onto the page in a mixture of elemental forces, twisted demons, and giant teddy bears. As Strange walks the streets, the world is turned down to black and white, yet the inter-dimensional parasites (benign and nasty) are vividly colored. Part romance and part mystery, the sense of foreboding Aaron drives home gives this ongoing series massive appeal.
Action Comics #45 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Removing Superman's secret identity and much of his superpowers was meant to bring him down to Earth, but Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's latest issue of Action Comics still doesn't quite handicap the Man of Steel. For a comic that's been pretty striking in the past, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's story feels a little uneven here, with an extended look at Clark Kent's new trucker identity as "Archie Clayton" and a high-tech shack in the middle of nowhere. Where does Clark get all these wonderful toys, especially with no paper trail and a face that's been plastered all over the news? Pak and Kuder throw in a little bit of action towards the end of this issue, but it feels perfunctory, with the everpresent shadow creature threat feeling a little underdeveloped. Scott Kollins delivers some clean, beautiful art, however, which makes this sleepy story at least look good. A slow chapter in an otherwise solid run.
Avengers #0 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): This is effectively a sample bag for not one but six new team books coming out from Marvel before the end of the year, designed to give us an idea of where to invest our hard-earned dollars. With the exception of the superbly emotional piece by Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar, featuring a devastating moment between the Vision and Scarlet Witch, unless you have a particular affinity with any of these characters, there’s just simply too little told too briefly here to base any financial decisions on. Al Ewing’s The Ultimates, beautifully drawn by Kenneth Rocafort, also shows a lot of promise, but many of the others simply come across as brain blips or advertorials. There are some stellar creators here - from G. Willow Wilson, to James Robinson and Gerry Duggan - and they will undoubtedly produced some excellent series. Unfortunately, this mixed bag casts too wide a net to convince folks.
The Omega Men #5 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Tom King continues to impress with his highly underrated Omega Men. This series has been ambitious before, but now King takes aim at interstellar religion and the hypocrisy hidden under many churches. Focusing on the onetime apostle known as Broot, King winds up making a strong argument for humanism, and how standing up for principles, friendship and a higher ideal doesn't always have to fall under a particular religious tenet. It's subversive but powerful stuff. Barnaby Bagenda's pages are still an acquired taste, one that thumbs its nose in the face of popular "widescreen" comic book storytelling, but his nine-panel layouts also allow King to pack in a ton of script. Definitely a strong outing here.