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 as Optical Oscar Maltby takes a look as the cineplex's latest superhero superstar (and friend!), with Spider-Man/Deadpool #2...
Spider-Man/Deadpool #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness continue with a sophomore issue full of eye-catching artwork and a dialogue-heavy script that takes Spidey and Pooly's trademark quippery to its absolute breaking point. As the brains behind Deadpool's first monthly solo title way back in '97, Kelly and McGuinness' combination of slapstick and violence is well-honed. This is Deadpool at his best; less a blunt fourth-wall breaker, and more a sociopathic and annoying little brother. Even when cracking jokes of his own, Spidey plays the frustrated straight man to Deadpool's nonsense as the pair bumble through an imaginary Goblin army and Mysterio on the way to Parker Industries R&D. Visually, McGuinness' artwork jumps from frenetic moment to frenetic moment, adeptly demonstrating Spidey's flexibility through dynamic and engaging action sequences, further complemented by Jason Keith's bold and bright colors. Although the barrage of unashamedly teenage comedy might not be to everyone's taste, Spider-Man/Deadpool #2 is light-hearted superheroics at its best.
Harley’s Little Black Book #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Harley Quinn is the last person in the universe who should be wielding a power ring, so guess what happens this month in the second installment of Harley’s Little Black Book? After coming in second in a hard-fought WeBay battle, Harley becomes the proud owner of a hybrid black-and-red power ring and, of course, that's when things go horribly/adorably wrong. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti make the most out of the flirty team-up between Harley and Hal Jordan as they butt heads and the eventually team up to save the world (and for Harley to steal a kiss and butt squeeze before it is all said and done). Along with the fun and breezy script, artists John Timms and Mauricet chock each page full of sumptuous and detailed artwork made even prettier by the bold colors of Hi-Fi. Harley’s Little Black Book wasn’t on my radar before but after reading this month’s shippable adventure, I look forward to spending much more time with Harley and whoever is unfortunate enough to roped into an adventure with her.
Old Man Logan #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Sometimes, when a character has been around a long time, like Wolverine, they lose their way - the powers that be forget what made the character such profound favorite in the first place. Lucky for us, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan #2 cuts the continuity bull and gets the Ol' Canucknucklehead back to doing what he does best: fighting Hulks. Besides the fact that Lemire has perfectly captured the sort of resolute, lone-warrior, inner dialogue of Logan, the issue is expertly paced with just enough action as Logan takes on Totally Awesome Hulk star Amadeus Cho, along with back story with Logan’s family and a sweet cliffhanger with one of Marvel's favorite Brooklynite superheroes. Sorrentino’s personal style still obscures finer details in the figures but the real character of the story comes out in between the panels. Thanks to colorist Marcelo Maiolo, things like the monochromatic panels, and frames within frames and Hawkeye’s bullseye motif (also, cows? For panels?!) really make this a can’t-miss story for fans of the salty, old X-Man.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 (Published by DC Comics and IDW Publishing; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally join forces with the Batman himself, but James Tynion IV gets just a little ahead of himself with his plot structure, and winds up dropping the ball on this epic team-up. With this issue jumping ahead to immediately show Batman and the Turtles working in concert, Tynion doesn't actually give us a good moment for the Dark Knight to let down his guard, as Master Splinter gives us all a massive info-dump before these disparate heroes finally unite against the threat of the Shredder. But with so much set-up, the actual team-up feels too short, a little too lacking on the energy - thankfully, Tynion's characterization is on point, and Freddie Williams II actually saves the day with his depiction of the Turtles, which straddles the perfect line between gritty and cartoony. Not a bad installment, but disappointing given the last two issues' level of quality.
Darth Vader #16 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Marvel’s darkest Star Wars title is back with a new arc that returns our Sith Lord to the planet he subjugated during the Darth Vader Annual a few months ago. The Ore Barons of Shu-Torun are rebelling once again and the Emperor requires Vader to lead a full military intervention to bring them back in line. As if that wasn’t enough, Vader has gathered the galaxy’s deadliest bounty hunters and put out a substantial bounty on his former ally, Doctor Aphra. With this sixteenth issue, Kieron Gilen delves deeper into Vader’s responsibilities as Palatine’s enforcer as well as returning us to the narratively rich planet of Shu-Torun. Salvador Larroca’s pencils along with Edgar Delgado’s darkened colors still gives Darth Vader a grimly beautiful edge over the other brighter Star Wars titles. Though it may have a harder edge than other Marvel Star Wars titles, Darth Vader is still delivering stories that are more than worth your attention.
Batman/Superman #49 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Every so often, DC Comics puts out a title that I feel I have to keep harping on, just to let everyone know that this is the real deal - this is a comic book you should not only be paying attention to, but that you should be emulating. And in the hands of Tom Taylor, Batman/Superman is that book - instead of trying to reinvent (or reboot) the wheel or to goose sales with crazy high-concepts, epic guest stars or A-list names attached, this book rests on characterization only. And let me tell you, I wish more books had the courage to do the same. Taylor's take on Superman being a lighter, more optimistic foil to the eternally moody and paranoid Batman is a wonderful dynamic - I love bits like Clark shaming Bruce after he learns Batman has been studying Green Lantern's technology, or Batman unflinchingly getting the first strike on a longtime DC baddie who is way out of his league. Robson Rocha and Julio Ferriera, also not huge names on their own, also do some beautiful work here - the art reminds me a bit of a cross between Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver, with the occasionally musculature of an artist like Phil Jiminez. Kudos to this creative team for such solid work, as well as the editors who entrusted them to do it. Note to DC: We need more books like this.
All-New All-Different Avengers #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It hasn’t even been five issues, and the All-New All-Different Avengers are already coming apart at the seams. As the Vision acts as a wedge between the Avengers old guard and their newer, younger members, Earth's Mightiest Heroes also have to deal with a powered-up Equinox, who may have ties with a classic Avengers foe. When it rains, it pours, right? Writer Mark Waid does a fine job keeping all these plates spinning while keeping the banter and charming personalities at the forefront. Artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Dave McCaig also once again make All-New All-Different one of the slickest-looking Avenger titles on shelves with smooth pencils coupled with vibrant, striking colors. While it may have not taken long for the team itself to start splinter, the All-New All-Different creative team is still rock-solid and delivering superb Avengers stories.
New Suicide Squad #17 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): With a big movie on the horizon, New Suicide Squad has suddenly become a very hot property over at DC Comics, but unfortunately, relaunch fatigue might kill this book faster than any supervillain. Attemping to up this book's Q rating with a new creative team, Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra don't add much to what feels like an increasingly repetitive structure for Suicide Squad stories - namely, Amanda Waller touring a prison, telling people how crazy her charges are, and then sending them into a battle which they will almost assuredly lose. It doesn't help that Seeley's team feels pretty anemic right now, with Deadshot, Harley and Cheetah feeling pretty played out. Juan Ferreyra, meanwhile, is an interesting artist, but the wrong fit for this book - his painted style feels too delicate and sunny for a grim book like New Suicide Squad, and when he tries to get ambitious with the layouts - such as a double-page spread of Harley chasing down ninjas across a rooftop - it becomes nearly impossible to follow.