Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's bite-sized Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with Resplendent Richard Gray, as he takes a look at the sophomore issue of Chewbacca...
Chewbacca #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In many ways this issue is more about the young hero Zarro, with Chewbacca taking a back seat to the primary arc of the small resistance to a gangster that has overtaken a world. Yet the same could be said about the films from which this is inspired, with Chewbacca only relatable through other characters. Gerry Duggan’s simple story is like an Ewok film but in the best possible way, taking alien characters and giving them voice through the plight of someone else. Yet the real hero here is Phil Noto’s gorgeous art, wordlessly conveying so much about the character’s past, including a wonderfully claustrophobic scene that reminds the titular character of the slavery in his past. The story does feel ultimate inconsequential, and not as tied to the main events as the the other books in the current Star Wars series, but that might just be part of its charm.
Superman #45 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The idea of a superhero fight club isn’t exactly a new one, but Superman #45 reveals a pretty clever take on an old comic trope. In his quest to finally root out the syndicate known as Hordr, Clark stumbles upon a club built on something called Mythbrawl, a metahuman fighting pit more akin to the WWE than Fight Club. Writer Gene Luen Yang adds a monster of a hook to the tried and true metahumans fighting gag by having each combatant act out their own creation myths in the ring instead of just fighting to fight. Its a welcome injection of weirdness into Superman’s main story, and one that sets it apart from the countless other super fighting pit stories that we have seen before. Artist Howard Porter along with colorist Hi-Fi add sketch inspired flair to the proceedings with rough hewn but richly colored pages throughout Superman #46. A breath of fresh air from the many lantern jawed art styles and designs of Clark Kent that came before it. Porter’s Superman may still have a jawline for days, but his Clark is much more craggy and hardened, a look perfectly suited to Mythbrawl. Superman #45 may take a pretty hard right turn but it's a fun ride all the same and one that adds a new level of energy into the story of the new Man of Tomorrow.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): “All reaction. Not enough time for follow-through.” Captain America: Sam Wilson #2 is finally gaining a firm grip on exactly what it means to wield the shield. Nick Spencer smartly keeps Sam still just slightly outside what Steve Rogers and S.H.I.E.L.D. think is important and worth tracking down, while still holding fast to his own ideals. While Steve believes with no question that his country will do what’s right, Sam can only hope it can, echoing the sentiment of many readers in the process. Daniel Acuna is fantastic as per usual, even more so than the debut issue because this time around he has much more to do, detailing not one but a few action scenes, as well as a hefty dose of exposition which he still manages to make interesting with just a few inspired coloring choices. Captain America: Sam Wilson #2 may be drawing ire on cable news, but it continues its streak of being a superhero comic with important things on its mind.
Batman and Robin Eternal #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Steve Orlando and Scott Eaton join the fray in this issue, delivering a solid fight sequence and even more intrigue. This weekly series has been a lot more even than DC’s past attempts thus far. With the current Robins/sidekicks at the center of the story, it’s fun to see them interact with the We Are Robin crew so early, and I think that’s going to be a recurring part of the plot. That title already puts forward the idea that Robin is a concept much larger than the people who have worn the cape and pixie boots, but time will tell how Batman and Robin Eternal is able to expand on it. Scott Eaton’s work is a pretty seamless transition from Paul Pelletier, and lives in a similar arena. The renderings are accurate and the expression work is strong. I think Eaton might have a leg-up on the action sequences, though. Spoiler’s role has yet to be clearly defined here, and that’s the biggest knock against the book. The writers have been able to give Red Hood, a character who actively works against the Batman concept, something to do, but Spoiler gets benched yet again. Hopefully, we’ll see all the sidekicks get more expanded roles as we move forward.
New Avengers #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Al Ewing's ragtag bunch of younger Avengers is a likable cast, but their scenes are cut short by disproportionate focus on the villain, an evil alternate universe Reed Richards. Hulkling barely speaks three lines, and White Tiger and Squirrel Girl's team-up ends abruptly after the first punch. It's disappointing that White Tiger's rare opportunity to lead in battle takes a backseat to world-building about Richards. Richards receives more exposition and character development than any of the Avengers. Gerardo Sandoval makes the most of White Tiger and Squirrel Girl's fight scene, drawing White Tiger slashing fiercely in mid-air. Dono Sanchez Almara adds flourish and distinction to Songbird's powers by bathing her sonic force field in an ethereal pink and purple glow. New Avengers is a missed opportunity by focusing very little on its Avengers.
Power Up #4 (Published by BOOM! Box; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Kate Leth and Matt Cummings’ spoof on the magical girl genre picks up speed in this month’s Power Up #4. This month’s issue is the most action-packed yet, with a grim fight against one of Amie’s close friends after they get possessed by one of the team’s unknown enemies. With so much at stake for the team as their friends and family get dragged into the fray, it’s hard to imagine such a rich story wrapping up satisfactorily in just six issues. Matt Cummings’ fight scenes this month are an interesting change of pace from the book’s cheery, playful style: his take on Amie’s friend turned temporary enemy lends the book an eerie vibe that’s been absent so far. Power Up #4 is a solid all-ages read, with charming art and a great story that will leave you wishing the book had a longer run ahead of it.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 is a comic that that delights in being a comic and all the outlandish history that comes with it. Who else is itching to revive villains like a late ‘40s Hydra robot named Brain Drain? Writer Ryan North manages to somehow make a tale about a girl with squirrel blood strangely relatable. Sure Doreen and her friends are superheroes (or regular heroes, in the case of her roommate Nancy), but they’re college students who deal with the same problems any college student does -- in this case, introducing your parents to your friends, as a Hydra robot attacks your pets. Erica Henderson’s quirky art and Rico Renzi’s vibrant color work are perfectly suited to North’s off-beat writing style. The issue peaks with a montage that embodies everything Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 hopes to be: an unabashedly fun comic, replete with visual gags and a campy story readers of all ages can enjoy.
Justice League 3001 #5 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): While Keith Giffen, J.M Dematteis and Howard Porter's JLI of the Future hasn't really gelled with me as a reader, there are a lot of ideas in the latest issue of Justice League 3001 that are really appealing. When this series first began, its lineup felt like a carbon copy of DC's main Justice League title, but with additions like Starro, Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Supergirl, and now a huge hulking Batbot, this team finally feels a little more distinguished from its predecessors. While Giffen and Dematteis' story is a bit meandering, the Batbot looks absolutely incredible, as the writers finally get a chance to utilize Howard Porter's larger-than-life penciling (that is, just as he jumps ship to the main Superman title). That said, this book's overly hokey and jokey writing - down to future Bane playing dress-up with Lois Lane's body, or Lois' robot spilling the beans about her evil plan - still keeps it from being anything other than an acquired taste.
Star Wars: Kanan The Last Padawan #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Putting the “Padawan” back into the title of the book brings with it a stronger focus on the past, with this entire issue a flashback within what is already effectively a flashback series. Plonking us back in the middle of the Clone Wars, we get a rare glimpse at the training of the Jedi younglings, along with how Caleb/Kanan came to be the padawan of Master Billaba. Tonally fitting in with the Star Wars: Rebels TV series, it’s a wholeheartedly faithful piece of new canon. Artist Pepe Larraz returns after a single issue break, rendering a beautifully faithful version of the world we saw between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. A particularly creepy bit of atmosphere is created during the revelation of an infirm Billaba, but Larraz’s skills lie in keeping a playful tone amidst the weighty action drama.
Sinestro #16 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Cullen Bunn has a nice little team-up in the latest issue of Sinestro, as the malevolent ringslinger has a fitting new BFF in the form of Black Adam. Watching these two leaders of bad men wearily navigate one another is a great dynamic - they truly respect each other, even as they aren't foolish enough to let their guards down. Unfortunately, the downside to this issue is that not only does Bunn have to spend several pages on the Sinestro Corps - including a very weird comment from Soranik implying she's into Adam - but once Sinestro and Adam make their way into the catacombs of Khandaq, the action feels ill-defined and bland. Brad Walker and Drew Hennessy draw an effective introduction to Khandaq (even if Hennessy's inking feels a little heavy in its line weight), while Ethan Van Sciver's action is actually overshadowed by a great scene of Sinestro and Black Adam overseeing a festival. Not a bad issue here.
Spider-Man 2099 #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): If the first issue of this revived arc struggled to find a place for Miguel O’Hara in a city filled with spider-powered heroes, this issue gives him purpose and vengeance. The only problems are that it further takes us away from the “2099” aspect of the title, it’s incongruous with his heroic deeds to date, and it is taking its sweet time getting there. More interesting is the appearance of the split-personality Captain America 2099, an aspect of Roberta Mendez. As she begins to manifest in this issue, it will restore some of the intrigue to the title. Will Sliney finally gets to cut loose on a brand-new costume for Spider-Man 2099, one that conclusively seems to say that all future tech must resemble Iron Man. Yet at this point, it gives the lead something to do, and something to punch. All the pieces are there for this to be back on track as a winning series, it just needs a stronger focal point.