Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has your back, with nine Rapid-Fire Reviews for your reading enjoyment! So let's kick off today's column with the latest issue of Mighty Thor...
Mighty Thor #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): If you're going to have an all-new Thor, does that mean an all-new Loki can be too far behind? Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman delve deep into the trickster god's various incarnations in Mighty Thor #3, and it's refreshing that Jane Foster is way smarter about it than her predecessor. It's hammer first, ask questions later, as Jane has to face a horde of Lokis, ranging from his current, Hiddleston-inspired look to the female Loki to even the cat Loki from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Aaron's script is taut and bounces from problem to problem without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, Dauterman is a powerhouse in this issue, showcasing not just his design skills, but his layouts - watching Jane toss Mjolnir at us like a fastball is an incredibly potent image, and his final cliffhanger image actually made me gasp out loud. Definitely the best Marvel book out all week.
Robin War #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Tom King has done an admirable job juggling all of Batman's supporting cast - indeed, he's taking on a job that the rest of the Bat-Office has had to separate piecemeal over in Batman & Robin Eternal - but ultimately the troops from We Are Robin prove to be one add-on too many with the conclusion of Robin War. This book feels like two stories trying to compete with one another - there's Dick Grayson and the rest of Bruce's wards dealing with the Court of Owls, while Duke Thomas and the rest of the We Are Robin kids finally step up. It's a little discordant, and unfortunately, King's recurring "I am/am not Robin" motif wears thin quickly here. That said, the army of artists here all look sharp, with Khary Randolph and Carmine Di Giandomencio being the highlights of the bunch. While there's a fun twist at the end of this book, this story never quite figured out who its primary focus was, and that kept Robin War from really igniting fully.
Injection #6 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Injection’s heavily serialized first five issues are a sharp double-edged sword. While regular readers were rewarded as they continued the first arc, casual readers were left in their esoteric dust. Thankfully, Injection #6 is the very picture of jumping-on point, and even better, its a fantastic single issue. Sidelining the bulk of Injection’s diverse cast, the sixth installment focuses on the weird Sherlock Holmes analog of the team Vivek Headland as he takes a case involving an affair from beyond the grave and a New York meat shop who is selling human flesh as cold cuts. Warren Ellis smartly condenses Injection’s story thus far to a mere page of dialogue and keeps the readers engaged with yet another of his world weary smart asses. While the story is a great entry point for new readers Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellarie drench Injection #6 in the trademark stark but stylish visuals and smoky colors that has made Injection so interesting from the start. If you haven’t read Injection before now, this sixth issue will welcome you with its weird and darkly funny arms wide open.
Superman: American Alien #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Clark Kent embarks on a much needed vacation, but ends up leaving behind more than just his home town in American Alien #3. After winning tropical vacation, Clark crash lands in the ocean and somehow ends up masquerading as Bruce Wayne after accidentally gatecrashing his birthday. Clark finding himself the life of the party is entertaining enough, but Max Landis muddles his own plot with cameo after cameo from the DCU, which proves more distracting than entertaining. Clark stumbling upon Bruce’s yacht is one thing, but having it populated by a handful of the most important characters in DC history is a bit of a stretch. Thankfully artist Joelle Jones and colorist Rico Renzi make American Alien a drop dead gorgeous title despite its conveniently stocked cast. Every one of Jones’ character designs are beautifully rendered and fully expressive. American Alien may be divisive, but its ambition and beauty cannot be denied.
Extraordinary X-Men #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Extraordinary X-Men #5 ends its first arc with some vintage mutant versus mutant action as the new team finally throws down with Mr. Sinister and his twisted clone of Scott Summers. Jeff Lemire keeps the fight personal, pitting the team against the sins of the past, given physical form by the classic X-villain Sinister. This fifth issue finally sees the new team gelling as a cohesive field unit and attempting to engage the human race as mutant ambassadors, a staple of classic X-stories. While Lemire keeps the team active, artist Humberto Ramos, inker Victor Olazaba, and colorist Edgar Delgado keeps the issue itself active with kinetic action, aided by heavy inks and intense color choices. Extraordinary X-Men may have started a big heavy-handed, but this arc ends on a high note that shows that the creative team is more than willing to temper its big ideas with even bigger action.
Gutter Magic #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Jeff Marsick; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Writer and creator Rich Douek world builds an amalgamation of alternate history, steampunk, and urban fantasy, populating it with wizards, Mafioso, strange creatures, and scoundrels. I like that we’re dropped in the thick of the plot—that of an Indiana Jones-esque lead making more enemies than friends in his quest to figure out how to become a magic user as is his birthright—and left on our own to piece together the backstory as we go. Artist Brett Barkley and colorist Jules Rivera aid and abet the story with a moody nuance that calls to mind a darker Barry Windsor-Smith, and the action scenes make me crave an all-out wizard war in the future. Once a self-published gem, it’s nice to see this book get the mainstream attention from IDW it deserves.
All-New X-Men #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley’s All New X-Men #3 actually feels like classic X-Men with a classic lineup, but it’s missing an edge. Hopeless’s script bounces along nicely and the writer is able to capture the voices of the time-displaced mutants without playing down to readers or mangling youth culture. Beyond that, the story doesn’t offer much more to chew on. Even with Cyclops’ speech, which echoes contemporary news stories of police force against its younger citizens, doesn’t offer much in regards to the national discussion. Mark Bagley is doing fine work here, as well but his straightforward approach to the script doesn’t dazzle the reader. All-New X-Men #3 is an energetic romp that will satiate X-fans and, at least, leave readers entertained.
Earth 2: Society #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Dan Abnett writes a short but surprisingly meaty story with Earth 2: Society #8, using low panel counts to let artist Jorge Jimenez go crazy with this alt-world JSA. Abnett toys with the political implications of having superheroes as magistrates on this brave new world (his Sandman is hilariously hawkish), but ultimately, this issue is about punching - and that's not a bad thing. Jimenez's take on Hawkgirl look fierce and fluid, and he channels the best of Greg Capullo with his take on Dick Grayson as Batman, whose cape whips around the room like a tornado. Perhaps what's most engaging about Earth 2 is that Abnett doesn't seem self-conscious about his characters or their origins - the characterization is simple but effective, such as the impetuous Hawkgirl or the scary-omniscient Green Lantern, as he trusts his readers to catch up. With artwork this good, Earth 2 should absolutely be on your pull list.
Snow Blind #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Jeff Marsick; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): A kid in Alaska named Teddy discovers he’s actually in Witness Protection, sets out to find out the truth, and he ends up getting himself wrapped up in the concertina wire of a situation far bigger than he ever imagined. Ollie Masters writes so well and with such an ear for authentic dialogue that even though I’m pretty sure I know where this is going, I’m really enjoying the ride. But then in the final scene, Masters yanks the floor out from underneath me and suddenly I’m no farther ahead than Teddy. The watercolored art from Tyler Jenkins, with nary a clean line in the entire book, lends a quintessential noirish tone to the story that also serves as a visual echo of what Teddy is going through internally. This is brilliant work.