Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with the beginning of the sophomore arc of All-New, All-Different Avengers...
All-New All-Different Avengers #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): After a shaky first arc bringing the team together, Mark Waid's sophomore arc on All-New All-Different Avengers starts to hit its stride, as he's joined by Mahmud Asrar, who makes a compelling case for why he's been tapped to draw Marvel's flagship title. While the beginning of this issue feels a little like Bendis-style humor-as-decompression, Waid has recalibrated his balance with all his characters, and now nobody feels like they're getting short shrift. Perhaps even more exciting is that all of Waid's characters feel dynamic - the camaraderie between Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel and Nova is incredibly endearing, and while Jane Foster as Thor doesn't quite mesh up with Jason Aaron's version, her joie de vivre makes her a very fun character to play off established characters like Captain America. Asrar, meanwhile, evokes a lot of Stuart Immonen with the fluidity and motion of his panels, and his message board-breaking kiss between Cap and Thor is a great moment in a book full of great moments. Definitely a fun book that is not to be missed.
Grayson #16 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): I didn’t know that I needed a full-on James Bond parody starring Dick Grayson until I read Grayson #16. Along with his faithful (and shippable) foil the Tiger, the two have declared all-out war on the agents of Spyral. However, writers Tim Seeley and Tom King, turn it into much more than that as Grayon and Tiger hit all the Bond high points in a deliciously meta and consistently hilarious issue. Mikel Janin is also way the hell in on the joke as he turns in another one of his and colorist Jeromy Cox’s montages that descends into pitch-perfect Bond movie opening credits sequence, complete with an improvised theme from the Spy Wonder himself. Grayson was already a pretty entertaining book beforehand, but this sixteenth is on a whole other level of charming. If you have friends that are on the fence about Dick’s new status quo, give them this issue and stand by for major feels, laughs and thrills.
Chew #54 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): John Layman and Rob Guillory are gearing up for Chew's grand finale, but before we can get to the steak, we've got to finish our vegetables first. This issue feels fairly subdued compared to most of Layman and Guillory's output in the past, as it's all about establishing key relationships and baseline abilities before the end comes - there's some very cool beats here, particularly seeing just how powerful Tony Chu has become as a cibopath, able to piece together a crime scene just by sniffing the air around him. Guillory also balances the tone of this issue nicely, jumping from hilarious, genetically modified choggs to some pretty sinister backstory going on. The one thing that slows this issue down? If you've read the last issue, you can easily guess where the story is headed, as Layman effectively winds up repeating the same cliffhanger as before. Still, with the pieces now put together, expect big things to come from this creative team's last hurrah.
Daredevil #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10). Ninjas. Why does it always have to be ninjas? This month the Hand returns as Matt Murdock attempts to reason with Hell Kitchen’s newest crime lord, Tenfingers. Writer Charles Soule keeps a firm hold on Matt’s terse, but engaging inner narration as he, and his new protege Blindspot, meet the ninja cult head on to keep Tenfinger’s thralls as safe as they can. “Nobody dies. Not in my city,” Matt says as he scraps, and if that isn’t Daredevil in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. Artist Ron Garney along with colorist Matt Milla deliver energetic Frank Miller-esque visuals throughout as Daredevil’s lithe, but powerful frame, tears through the wraith-like ninjas of the Hand. Milla’s almost negative like approach to the colorizations also gives it a distinctly darker look, vastly different from the pop art style of the previous creative team. Everything that’s old feels new again in Daredevil #3 as it takes inspiration from the Miller era and delivers yet another engaging take on the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
Ghostbusters International #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10):Even though this follows the previous miniseries Ghostbusters: Get Real, franchise veterans Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening have made it incredibly easy to jump aboard this new team book. For old fans, the core group remains, and Burnham’s character voices are so authentic that it could easily be an alternative sequel to the original films. The new group of characters, who will not be known to non-comics readers, are rapidly defined and placed within the world, making this feel like a holistic start instead of a "reboot." Schoening’s art is a morning cartoon in still form, a vivid recreation of characters that are lovingly handled, from Venkman’s sarcastic expressions, to Janine’s scowl or the inventive class six apparitions that appear in front of the United Nations building. If you’ve never picked up a Ghostbusters comic, but have always wanted to give them a go, this is a great place to start.
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot & Katana #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): It’s a shame when a single issue has to share two different stories that differ vastly in quality. Unfortunately, that’s the case with Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot & Katana #1. The first half, featuring the Deadshot story by Brian Buccellato and Viktor Bogdanovic, is a solid 20-page action story that balances the drama and action well and really gave Bogdanovic a chance to shine as the penciler. That said, the back half, a Katana story by Mike W. Barr and Diogenes Neves, falls really flat in every category. The villains are painfully one-dimensional, the coloring is brash and does not suit the theme, and the stilted, overly-poetic English that Katana speaks in is very distracting. The stoic anti-hero feels very out of place in this old-fashioned sort of story. Perhaps it's fitting that with Suicide Squad Most Wanted, one of the characters doesn’t make it out of this book unscathed.
Hellboy Winter Special #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): This collection of short vignettes from some of the best in the business read like spooky campfire stories from three different periods. The Mike Mignola/Scott Allie opener is set in the ancient history of Hellboy myth, which will have little meaning to casual fans, but nevertheless comes with striking art from Tim Sale that is wholly Hellboy and classic Sale noir. Every panel is framable. The B.P.R.D. 1953 tale, from Mignola/Chris Roberson and artist Michael Walsh, is more along the lines of an expected Hellboy-centric piece, a ghost story around Chinese workers that reads cinematically. The most fun of the bunch is Chelsea Cain’s 1970s "Mood Swings," where she deals with Hellboy’s adolescent sidekick’s moodiness with delightful art from Michael Avon Oeming. The final two-pager is wholly a Dean Rankine piece, as Lobster Johnson attempts to buy Kung Pao Chicken, and if you’ve every ready Itty Bitty Bunnies, you’ll know it ends in a beautiful mess.
Justice League 3001 #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): While Marvel is getting all the headlines from their female-led team A-Force, J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Scott Kolins are toiling away unappreciated on Justice League 3001, which evokes Giffen's "Five Years Later" jump with the Legion of Super-Heroes while organically bringing together an all-female team of tomorrow's heroes. Now that Lady Styx has taken over the Commonwealth, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and the rest of the League are in hiding, and DeMatteis and Giffen have put together an effective jumping-on point for readers. The added benefit of this new team is that Justice League 3001 is finally making good on its promise of doing something different - and not just reductive - of the original League, with characters like the new Batgirl (who pilots a giant mech while wearing a Robin outfit) or Guy Gardner having essentially a degenerative brain condition providing some fun wrinkles. Scott Kolins also delivers some strong work here, really showing off how desperate and dingy the future has become, amplifying the threat level of the evil Scullion robots even further. While I was no fan of this book at the outset, Justice League 3001 has slowly evolved into a very, very fun read.
Cry Havoc #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Werewolves, awesome lady protagonists, and a metric ton of sharp dialogue. They say you can’t have it all, but Cry Havoc #1 might just prove them wrong. Written by X-Men: Leagcy scribe Si Spurrier, drawn by the wonderful Ryan Kelly, and colored by three, yes, three separate colorists, Nick Filiardi, Lee Loughridge and Matt Wilson, the newest Image debut tells the story of Louise Canton, a former zookeeper and newest member of a group of private contracted soldiers. But, this being a comic book, each soldier is imbued with a special power; “Something disgusting crawled inside each of us,” Sri, one of the squad’s vets, tells Louise on the way to her first mission. Si Spurrier gives us the bare bones of the story, Lou’s life before the squad, her “mugging” by a werewolf, and a grim look at the aftermath of her first op, but like any good pilot, it's more than enough character and plot to get you hooked and awaiting next month. Artist Ryan Kelly adapts wonderfully to the jarring changes of scenery, rendering the streets of London with the same care as he does to the sands of Afghanistan. The juggling is made even more deft by the company of colorists in Filiardi, Loughridge, and Wilson as they each handle the three main settings of the issue (London, Afghanistan, and the mysterious Blue Place), giving each a distinct visual look and tone that enhances the chaos around Louise. A lot of hype has surrounded Cry Havoc #1 as it approached its release, but after finally being able to read it, I can happily report that it backs up every bit of it.