Detective Comics #853A quick look at this week's Best Shot Extra:
Detective Comics #853
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
So many people dismiss the capes-and-tights genre as pure adolescent fantasy, of wish fulfillment by nebbish kids without any sort of "true" artistic value. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, if you've ever rooted for the man behind the cape and cowl, Detective Comics #583 is an example of comic book requiems at their absolute finest.
For most writers, thinking about death may come off as a bit morbid, but writer Neil Gaiman takes these different deaths and incarnations of the Dark Knight, and uses each of them to illustrate some absolute truths about our hero. Do we ever find out what really happened to the Caped Crusader? Yes and no -- Gaiman is using continuity and storytelling as a prism, making up stories as he goes along that might not fit in any one issue of Batman's 70-year career, but still feel true to the character. In one fantasy that riffs off the Killing Joke, the Joker shouts, "you've got enough Joker venom in you to finish off a regiment of elephants. Why don't you smile? Why don't you die?" Gaiman's Batman gives a response that sent chills up my spine: "Because it's not funny."
Yet Gaiman's focus on Batman's supporting cast doesn't diminish from his instinctive understanding of Bruce Wayne himself. "This is a brain does when you're dying, isn't it?" he asks. He instantly categorizes this issue as a near-death experience -- classic Bruce, trying to contextualize the unimaginable -- and yet doesn't give red flags over R.I.P., Final Crisis, or another other case: this could happen at any time. And in the minds of many, maybe it did. It's fitting -- how else can you kill an urban legend than by making up a story of someone doing him in? But one thing remains the same: "The Batman doesn't compromise," he says. "I keep this city safe... Even if it's safer by just one person... and I do not ever give in or give up."
While many have ragged on artist Andy Kubert for the second book's delay, I'm of the opinion, at least in this case, that good things come to those who wait. This is a guy who can subtly mimic all the different eras of Batman's long and storied career -- and not make it stand out. This is a book for continuity fetishists as well as those who can relate to the spirit of the Caped Crusader, and Kubert's art doesn't make you self-conscious of that. The emotions ring clear in every sad face and death scene, with the imposing Clayface breaking down being one of the best images yet.
There are a lot of comics out there that I'd describe as "hardcore," "clever," "gorgeous," or "action-packed." There are very few out there that I would describe as beautiful. But Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader is beautiful in every sense of the word, down from the art all the way to Batman saying goodbye to his manor, his Batmobile, his mechanical dinosaur, and his giant penny. For those of you who felt a lump in your throat when Jean Grey "amputated the future" during Grant Morrison's final issue on New X-Men, this is a comic that will reach -- if not shatter -- that level of sentimental greatness. Neil Gaiman has been considered one of the greats, and in this issue, he proves it, giving the Batman a final send-off that, at least in my mind, will stand the test of time.
Viking #1Viking #1
Written by Ivan Brandon
Art and colors by Nic Klein
From Image Comics
Review by Brendan McGuirk
Sometimes hype is earned. Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein's pre-sold out Viking looks like one of those such occurrences.
The first thing you will notice about this new Image series is its gorgeous packaging. With a slightly larger trim size and glossy card-stock cover, the book jumps off the stands. It is little surprise, then, that the book sold out at the distributor level as soon as retailers saw the product- it just looked too good to pass up. Though it is not a “presitige” format book in the traditional sense of square-binding, it is a prestigious package indeed. It is the kind of book that almost outgrows “comic book,” with a format demanding a classier nomenclature, like “graphic album.”
And that's before you even open it.
Of course, when you do open it, the brilliance continues to abound. Nic Klein's artwork sings. He rotates effortlessly between harder pen-and-ink linework and lavishly realized painted panels, creating an emotional weight specific to each image. Where one panel might echo the stylings of Fabio Moon or Gabriel Bá, the next will give the weight and depth of the painted work of Dan Brereton- yet it straddles this line without being inconsistent, or distracting.
That range proves vital to Ivan Brandon's script, because hard contrasts lie at the very heart of this story. It is the age of Vikings, and the world is a harsh place. The first scene is especially effective in portraying a world of utter brutality. But there is more to this world than swords and savagery. In a time where warfare is the way of life, tribalism and family are made that much more important. Many stories of the viking age attempt to recreate epic, mythological sagas, in an attempt to capture the supposed grandness of the era. Viking, instead, tempers a violent story with human grounding.
Finn and Egil are brothers and partners. Brandon takes care to portray them not only as raiders, but as men of a lower caste who simply apply the trade they know best. As brothers are prone to be, they are different people, but complimentary beings. And they're just in it for the money. At least, they are to begin with. But when they murder the wrong man, their marauding ways come back to haunt them in the place they are most vulnerable.
And so their troubles begin.
After this first issue, in which we meet the players and learn of their world, there are any number of directions this series might go. With fleshed out, realized characters, striking and versatile artwork, the potential to this series seems limitless. Moreover, this book seems strong enough to be a cornerstone that propels both its writer and artist to the industry's forefront. There is a great balance to this book. The start of this issue made me laugh at incontinence jokes, and the end of it broke my heart. There is a good chance that this first issue is the start of a special comic.
Dark Reign: Elektra #2Dark Reign: Elektra #2
Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciller: Clay Mann
Inker: Mark Pennington
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Review by David Pepose
While a few weeks back I raved about Dark Reign: Elektra #1, I suppose it's only inevitable that the second issue can't reach quite as high a bar. The comic does have a lot of things going for it -- but in this case, I think the exposition needed for those not well-versed in recent Marvel lore might have kept this book from firing on all cylinders.
This issue follows up directly from where the last one ended -- Elektra beginning to make her escape from Norman Osborn's flying H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier. And while writer Zeb Wells swings for the fences with a wounded Elektra manipulating the Helicarrier's automated systems to make her escape, the scene itself doesn't have quite as many clever moments as similar sequences from the last issue. While Wells does lend a unique voice to the H.A.M.M.E.R. commander who tries to bring the former mistress of the Hand down, this issue takes away from the hard-core moments of the first book, instead hammering home that Elektra is still wounded, and thus not as formidable a foe as before. Elektra falls down, gets shot, and otherwise takes damage just a little bit too often for my liking -- without meaning to, it takes away the autonomy and self-assuredness of one of comics' true femme fatales.
The other problem with this particular issue is that the art team of Clay Mann, Mark Pennington, and Matt Hollingsworth seem to not be quite as simpatico as they were on issue one. Hollingsworth's wide palette of colors -- which were incorporated quite cleverly in the first book -- detract a bit from Mann and Pennington, even as they try their best to make some iconic imagery. (One set of pages, showing Norman Osborn's reaction to Elektra's escape, is almost florescent, and sadly not in a good way.) Unfortunately, this script tries to pack in as much story as it can -- presumably to detract clutter for a nice throw-down in the next book -- and so the art team just doesn't have enough room to breathe and really stun the reader like they did before. One panel, where Elektra leaps from the helicarrier, is striking in its beauty -- unfortunately, these sorts of images are a bit too limited.
That said, while I think this particular issue probably needed some reworking on a conceptual level, Wells is taking one for the team in this particular issue, setting up what look to be some cool meetings from the cast of Daredevil -- namely, one avocado archer that I've said holds the keys to bringing down Norman Osborn's Dark Reign. Wells is clearly enthused with the concept of Bullseye versus Elektra, and his reintroduction of the character into this series is what is making me stick around.
Ghost Rider #34Ghost Rider #34
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Tony Moore
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Review by David Pepose
Who would have thought Ghost Rider could be this good? Or this funny?
While I've heard nothing but good about the Jason Aaron-penned series, trying out Ghost Rider #34 was an exceedingly fun experience, given the dismal characterization the character has had in the past. Even in this issue, Danny Ketch doesn't get a whole lot of sketching -- or characterization -- but Aaron's introduction of a dark-as-hell comedic character is what makes this issue a great one to remember.
If you're looking for some background on Danny Ketch and what happened to his fellow Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, I'm afraid you're out of luck for this issue. But what you do get is a V8-horsepower jousting match, bathed with hilariously over-the-top gore and hellfire. In this issue, the demon that Johnny Blaze faces down is a obscure Marvel denizen from the underworld known as the Highwayman. Aaron gets through his story quickly enough, wisely dropping us into the action by page three.
The Highwayman, if you don't get it by the end of this review, exemplifies all that is best with Jason Aaron. He has a keenly distinct voice, and just comes off as a darkly comic character in a series that, well, has been known by many as dull and droll. "Hail, Satan, you sum-bitches," the Highwayman cackles, as he shifts his baby's-head stick shift. Is it bad that by page four I already had the book to the cashier?
Yet this book is not a one-trick pony: Aaron is aided and abetted by the fluid storytelling of Tony Moore, who lends a Darwyn Cooke or John Romita Jr. style of clean art with even more panache. Moore's little details throughout the book -- from the Ghost Rider's iconic transformation to the gory accoutrements on the Highwayman's rig to the bumper stickers on the Alien Abductee Express ("We brake for Spaceknights" and "I got whipped by Hussar" are my personal favorites), Moore never sacrifices compelling action for his fun little Easter Eggs. I would be remiss, however, without discussing the superb color work by Dave McCaig, who uses a great selection of reds, earth tones, gray-blues, and an otherworldly magenta for the hellish big rig. Good colorists don't detract from the art -- great colorists, like McCaig, make the artist's best work really pop.
The team really shines, however, in the fight sequence between Ketch and the Highwayman -- while Danny is fairly silent, the Highwayman's reactions (both through his physicality and his dialogue) are flat-out funny: "Bring it on, ya crotch-rocket ridin' bastard!" he shouts. (I only wish Ketch had a few more lines.) But the action is smooth and suspenseful, with Moore always getting just the right "shot" for his frame. (And I won't spoil the end of the fight for you, but it's a nice little joke that was the perfect end to this gory yet tongue-in-cheek fight.)
If you're new to the whole Ghost Rider mythos -- like me -- this issue may not give you a lot of background on Danny Ketch and the war in Heaven and Hell, but it will certainly show why Ghost Rider is a fun character to watch. With the sort of quirky character work and dark comedy mixed with some incredibly clear and quick action, Ghost Rider #34 is an underrated treat that will hook you in faster than Danny Ketch's mystical chain.
The Bun FieldThe Bun Field
Written & Illustrated by Amanda Vähämäki
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
Vähämäki’s darkly surreal comic is difficult to describe. With a dream-like semi-logic, The Bun Field manages to both incredibly creepy – the bun field is literal, a lawn where small cakes with faces sprout from the ground, only to be slaughtered by tractors tilling the soil – and oddly off-beat humorous. A young girl and a bear debate their own qualifications to drive a car, for example.
The soft and delicate pencil art by Vähämäki is very attractive. Smudged and fully rendered, each panel captures the creator’s unsettling vision of youth, a fragile humanity beset by loss of teeth, bloody noses and encounters with talking animals.
The Bun Field is one of those books that’s difficult to review. It’s extremely well done, unsettling, twisted, and quite disturbing, but it also has a very specific and focused audience. Fans of “horrors of childhood” stories and of dream comics will find it an intense experience, and hopefully readers who maybe aren’t as familiar with similar types of comics will check it out to see Vähämäki’s strong performance.
Cecil and Jordan in New YorkCecil and Jordan in New York
Written & Illustrated by Gabrielle Bell
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
The latest collection of short fiction by Gabrielle Bell, Cecil and Jordan in New York shows noticeable maturity and confidence in comparison to Bell’s earlier works. The comics here are assured and precise, blending the naturalism of Bell’s “young people in the city” settings with a running thread of surreality – a young woman becomes, literally, a piece of furniture to feel more valuable, and a towering giant dominates a relationship with another young woman.
Most of the stories have coherent themes tying everything together, but there’s also a sameness that leaves all of the stories jumbled together in the reader’s mind after finishing the book. The recurring presence of young adults, mostly women, unsure of their place in the world, at school, in a relationship, in a workplace leaves a vague sense of sameness to the entire affair.
As an artist, Bell’s work is solid, in both color and in black and white. She imbues each scene with a quiet normalcy, with stiff but functional backgrounds that keep each scene grounded in the moment Bell’s trying to portray. She’s adept at moving the camera around to keep the page engaging and lively.
Overall, Cecil and Jordan in New York is a solid effort, but readers who aren’t fans of Bell or similar mundane slice-of-life comics aren’t likely to find this book changing their mind.
Written & Illustrated by Alexis Frederick-Frost, Alex Kim, A.L. Arnold and Sean Ford
Published by Four Square Books/IKnowJoeKimpel
Reviewed by Michael C Lorah
Trivial is a small anthology project showcasing four up-and-coming cartoonists, gathered together under the collective IKnowJoeKimpel. Each of the four creators gets a spotlight, ranging from seven to eighteen pages, and each brings a distinct voice to their story.
Frederick-Frost, one of the co-creators of First Second’s Adventures in Cartooning, kicks off the book with a subdued piece focusing on Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer. Using text from Shackleton’s journals to accompany squiggly ink drawings of the explorers moving across the beautifully desolate landscape. It’s an attractive piece, well drawn, with a nice bit of adventure.
A bizarre dream about hands, Kim’s story is a spotlight on his use of black versus white space, full of cross-hatching, heavy black sections, and open spaces of white terror.
Another Adventures in Cartooning co-author, Arnold’s whimsical sequence follows a mythological being who lives in the clouds, protecting the Earth. It’s charming enough, with the hero attempting to destroy an oncoming asteroid, but the real selling point is Arnold’s use of layouts. The confident movement of the hero from panel to panel, cloud to cloud, echoed by the inevitable charge of the asteroid.
Sean Ford provides the two final shorts, both black humor gags about “Clay and the Ghost,” revolving around Clay’s being pushed into experiences by the Ghost, who then laments his own inability to experience life. Unsettling funny and well drawn, it’s a good finale to a winning indie anthology.
Jack of Fables #33Jack of Fables #33
Writers: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Art: Art by Russ Braun and Jose Marzan Jr.
Review by Mike Mullins
Part 2 of the Great Fables Crossover picks up with an army of forgotten Fables seemingly brought together by Jack taking over a diner. If you flashed back to their kiss and went, “ewww,” upon learning that Luke and Leia were siblings, page two will have a similar effect multiplied thrice if you have not read Jack of Fables recently. If you have never read Jack of Fables, the yuck-factor is clearly spelled out later in the issue.
Jack’s army is quickly joined by Bigby and Snow before the issue moves a castle in the homelands. Just as Fables pulled in the Mr. Dark storyline, Jack of Fables is pulling in a storyline that dates back to the Jack Frost arc.
The story gives new readers their first real glimpse of Kevin Thorn, the antagonist of The Great Fables Crossover, and he is one mean-spirited and cranky jerk.
The heart of the story is the interaction between Snow and Bigby and Jack and his army. More accurately, this can be described as the fight between Bigby and Jack and the conversation between Snow and the army. While Jack may have thought his movies and other avenues of popularity may have launched him into Bibgy’s weight class, the Bigby is still the Big, Bad Wolf. The competence of Snow and Bigby creates tension with Jack and leads to the issues final scene.
The story is well crafted and continues to build the arc’s significance. The art is consistent with Fables, which will provide for a cohesive collection in trade paperback. Most importantly, the issue has me interested in the next chapter.
Skrull Kill Krew #1Skrull Kill Krew #1 of 5
Written by Adam Felber
Pencils by Mark Robinson
Inks by Mike Getty
Colors by Andres Mossa
From Marvel Comics
Review by Brendan McGuirk
You can't make a book about an alien hate-crime/ extermination unit without a pretty decent sense of humor. The new Skrull Kill Krew miniseries brings that comedy, and pairs it with the dexterous art necessary to capture a story about shapeshifters who hunt shapeshifters.
The Kill Krew is one of the more oddball leavings of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar's 90's collaborative efforts. It was a little bit Gen-X counterculture, a dash of Mad-Cow Disease hysteria, a pinch of obsessive continuity cherry-picking, and a lot of awesome. Point man Ryder and the Krew resurfaced during the heat of the Secret Invasion in the pages of Avengers: The Initiative, if only to show that they hadn't lost their bumpy-chin bashing fastball. Now, the invasion is over, but there are a few stragglers hanging about the planet, and once again the Skrullburger-mutated Ryder must make the rounds and slaughter the foolish Skrulls who didn't take the hint that the party was over.
As a character, Ryder is just cool. He was cool in the original series, he was cool in The Initiative and he's cool here. I mean, he can make his arms into guns, and in comics, that damn near defines cool. In the Dark Reign wake of the Skrulls' siege, Ryder is forced to perform his homeland protecting duties that much more below the radar.
Adam Felber, who astute NPR listeners may know from the comedic radio quiz feature Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, makes his feature debut scripting this issue, after writing the short preview story that appeared in the Dark Reign: New Nation one-shot, and delivers like a veteran. Felber goes heavy on the funny, hitting the perfect absurdist pitch for the series, with clever dialogue and strong situational humor. His Skrulls are hardly the religious fanatics of recent note, and instead maximize their shape-changing abilities to capitalize on their slapstick potential. The story was paced well, and really showed no signs of any glaring rookie mistakes.
Mark Robinson and Mike Getty's visual voice perfectly match the slapstick tone. With an exaggerated, stylized kineticism that hearkens to industry all-star Skottie Young, the art team gives a consistency to this book that it sometimes lacked in its first run under the steady pen of Steve Yeowell. The free-flowing style of the book works perfectly in a story that features pliant shapeshifters so prominently, and the action and storytelling is clean and precise. As an art choice, I sort of miss Ryder's hair actually looking like long dreadlocks, as opposed to the vaguely odd straight-black haired ponytail, but that's a minor quibble at best.
After the draining event that was Secret Invasion, it would make sense to want to let Skrulls cool off for a while. What this book does to avoid the feeling of over saturation is to use Skrulls completely different tonally, and really presents a new angle on the not-so-little green men. It also offers a revelatory new wrinkle to the Krew's origin- a wrinkle that cuts to the core of the Krew's whole purpose. With solid writing, unique art, and a great hook, this issue proves that no matter what you may think, we have not yet had enough Skrulliness.
Supergirl #40 (DC Comics; review by Rev. O.J. Flow) It was like "Revelation Week" over at DC, what with Batman's mysterious escort being revealed (see Detective Comics #853) and here with the identity of Superwoman coming to light finally. While the list of suspects was always short to begin with, I was a little surprised to find out who is behind the mask. The revelation comes at the final page, so elaboration will have to wait until the fifth and concluding chapter of "Who Is Superwoman?" a month from now. Along the way, writer Sterling Gates only proceeds to give the relatively green Supergirl some depth and maturity as she has the unenviable challenge of fighting a villain who can sap her of her Kryptonian powers for brief stretches and a mystery woman who is more than her match. On the art front, I have to say that I am normally a fan of the inking of Jon Sibal, but for some reason his finishes on the pencils of Jamal Igle render the end product a bit on the brittle side. A guy like Keith Champagne is much better suited to add polish to Igle's work. It's still an overall quality production, and while I am looking forward to seeing the Superwoman story reach an end in favor of newer stories by this stellar creative team, Supergirl is still proving to be one of the best Man of Steel-themed titles.
Astonishing X-Men #29 (Marvel Comics; review by Brendan): Simone Bianchi might take a while to deliver, but he is a hugely talented artist whose narrative skills are continuing to mature. His page composition is always ambitious, but he seems to have struck a nice balance of those tendencies with linear storytelling. Emma Frost was born to be written by Warren Ellis, and the Beast is the perfect representative for Ellis' scientifically inquisitive mind. The cast of Astonishing has alchemic balance that makes the most of both the science-fighter aspect of the X-Men with the soap opera character interactions. In fact, it has been Ellis' willingness to play within the confines of the X-universe, picking up on shared plotlines, and embracing the soap- operatic nature of the franchise, that has impressed me most with this run. Despite the irregular shipping of this title, it continues to impress as a top-flight book of mutant adventure.
Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis #1 of 4 (BOOM!; review by Mike Mullins): BOOM! Studios continues to provide interesting stories within the framework of H. P. Lovecraft’s mythos. This mini-series begins with two interesting hooks, one in the modern world and one far in the past in Atlantis. The issue opens with a cat prowling a block of destroyed buildings as it meanders towards the Arkham Boardinghouse, which is a lit in flames. Throughout its journey, the cat provides narration about its standing as the last god left and ends with his assertion of victory. The remainder of the book picks up in Atlantis as the brother to the King looks for a means to stymie the efforts of the cult of Nyarlathotep. The oracle that the protagonist, Hadron, visits is properly creepy and delivers a portent that gives reason for optimism and dread.
The issue is a nice starting point for a mini-series, but does not feel necessary. It would have been nice if the issue had gotten a little deeper into the story, but the story is still an enjoyable and there is definitely enough of a draw to bring you back for issue #2.
Watchmensch (Brain Scan Studios; Reviewed by Erich): All the lawyers and media rights agents will look up and shout "sign it!"... ...and I'll look down and whisper "oy vey..." And with that begins Rich Johnston's twisted, hilarious take on the Watchmen. Ostensibly taking place in the Springfield of The Simpsons, the story follow's Spottyman's search for the killer of Krusty The Clown. To give this story any kind of decent review would involve giving away too many of the jokes and story lines of the book. Suffice it to say, Johnston's ability to combine the worlds of The Simpsons and The Watchmen is brilliantly on display. Johnston, a well known columnist in the comic world, chose the right artist in Simon Rohrmuller. He is able to add the cartoonish Simpsons characters into the artistic style of Dave Gibbons without losing any of the unique characteristics of Matt Groening's creations. A great book, well worth the $3.99 cover price.
Guardians of the Galaxy #13 (Marvel; Reviewed by Erich): After a couple of down issues, GOTG is back! The team is at, if not beyond, full strength thanks to the resurrection of Moondragon and the temporary return of Adam Warlock and Gamorah. A decidedly not-crappy War of Kings tie-in, we're actually treated to story advancement, rare in this day of unneccessary tie-ins. The book starts with a drunken bar brawl, and ends with the team split in half. Star Lord's group sent to confer with Black Bolt, discussing his role in the war. Rocker Racoon's ream, ready for the fight, is sent to take on the Shi'Ar. Neither team has quite the amount of success as could have been hoped for, but one team manages to add another group of familiar faces to their side. Great book, fun without sacrificing story or action, back up to the standards we've come to expect.
In Case You Missed It...
Deadpool #8 (Second Printing)
Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Review by David Pepose
When the Deadpool/Thunderbolts crossover Magnum Opus came out a few weeks back, I was crushed when my LCS had run out of copies before I could review it. Well, after reading this issue, I can certainly see why. This is a comic that would probably fail if it took one step further or back -- but like any great souffle, writer Daniel Way and penciller Paco Medina lead their team to one surprisingly good book.
The story, which you might have read during Newsarama's interview with Daniel Way, deals with Deadpool hunting down Norman Osborn, who intercepted his data on how to kill a Skrull Queen. Now, for those of you who are Thunderbolts fanatics -- they do not take center stage in this particular issue, only popping up around the end. But Way manages to pit the Merc with a Mouth against the Despot with "Doo-Doo Head" in this particular issue, while managing to effectively use Deadpool's inner monologue to carry an otherwise fairly actionless few pages. (That said, I would probably argue that Way relies on this trick a little too heavily in this issue, using nearly a quarter of his page count on a one-joke set of hallucinations.)
However, Way redeems this particular sequence by Deadpool's resourcefulness, as he rips off an Iron Man breastplace to protect himself against heavy arms fire, as well as rides a Goblin hoverboard to dodge Norman's internal defenses. (Deadpool also had an amusing one-liner as he rides the Goblin craft, talking to his own brain: "It means I don't need you anymore! Haaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!")
Now, during my last review of Deadpool I said that Paco Medina's cartoony style wasn't really a good fit for this book, but I am happy to eat my words in this particular review. His storytelling is big and expressive, and more importantly he knows how to convey motion in a fluid manner. His details are a still a little off, however -- it took a few reads for me to realize that the Iron Man breastplate had taken damage, which was sort of the whole point of that story beat. Still, Medina's depiction of the Thunderbolts actually looks pretty good, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in action next month. But the real unsung hero in this issue is colorist Marte Gracia, whose restraint is sublime. All the characters and action appropriately pops from the page, and he doesn't muddle any of the art. Good show all around.
The real secret of this particular issue's success is that Way's madcap ideas flow really well with Medina's work, even as you'd think a Deadpool/Thunderbolts crossover would be particularly gritty. I'll be honest, I was kind of looking for that sort of no-holds-barred brawl that comes with a mercenary fighting a team of covert-ops assassins, but if you can get over that initial disappointment, this is an issue that does pretty well for itself.