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 check in with the Man Without Fear, as we take a look at the latest issue of Daredevil...
Daredevil #8 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The name's Murdock — Matt Murdock. Charles Soule, Goran Sudzuka and Matt Milla pay homage to Casino Royale in Daredevil #8, which proves to be a unique showcase for both Matt Murdock's superhuman abilities and all-too-human willpower. Having a blind man suddenly clean up at cards is a cute concept, and one that Soule uses carefully to ensure that Daredevil doesn't feel overpowered. Sudzuka and Milla play up the moodiness of this casino to the hilt, with Milla's largely monochromatic colors playing up the contrast of the scenes nicely. Sudzuka, meanwhile, brings a Chris Sprouse-esque cleanness to his character designs, but there's a slight edge to Matt's anatomy that shows there's a dangerous man behind those red glasses. While the final sequence, featuring Matt engaging in psychic battle with a mind-reading card shark, feels perhaps a little too Claremont-ian old school, this is still a fun change of pace for the guardian of Hell's Kitchen.
Aquaman: Rebirth #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Grounded — it’s why Arthur Curry still eats at the same seafood restaurant his dad took him to, and that is what Aquaman: Rebirth #1 is all about. The character has been adrift for some time and this refreshing take by Abnett and company actually feels right at home. Although this issue borrows a lot of elements from Geoff John’s first issue in the New 52, Abnett plays to Aquaman’s diverse role in the DCU as well as the public’s perception of the character. The prevalent theme of "hope" in Rebirth is carried by the artists, Scott Eaton and Oscar Jimenez, with a colorful and dynamic take on Arthur’s world. Abnett, Jimenez and Eaton’s Aquaman: Rebirth #1 is exactly the kind of course correction that is needed for Aquaman.
The Fix #3 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Nick Spencer’s superhero comics may be grabbing headlines, but The Fix still stands strong as his and artist Steve Lieber’s real heavy-duty work. Presented as a one and done tale of Roy moonlighting as private security for starlet Elania in order to start a long con, Spencer, Lieber, and colorist Ryan Hill, who provides some really striking color shifts and background work here, start this third issue off as yet another madcap and hard-R-rated tale of lowlives, but quickly turn it into something much, much more. Using Roy as narrator once again and his deep understanding of pop culture, Spencer morphs The Fix #3 from straight comedy into a heartbreaking rumination on female stars and their disgustingly calculated and manufactured journey from child star to sex symbol, only to be chewed up and discarded once the industry is done with them. Though a new character Elania is a scene-stealer throughout; mercurial and knee deep in cynicism and vices, Elania is a tremendous foil for Roy and a character that readers will find hilarious and quickly sympathize with while avoiding the pity trap characters like this usually fall into. Building to a true gut punch of an ending that completely took me by surprise, The Fix #3 shows that Nick Spencer’s most incendiary and affecting work isn’t with the man with a shield, it's in the seedy world of Hollywood.
Civil War II: Gods of War #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Dan Abnett may be swimming circles around his competition with his winning first issue of Aquaman, but his latest issue featuring the demigod Hercules falls thanks to a scattered plot and underdeveloped villains. This issue starts out strong, with Herc reuniting with his former (and now Awesomely Hulk-ified) sidekick Amadeus Cho, but Amadeus is cast aside quickly, as Herc struggles to overcome superhero depression and a rogues gallery of ill-defined adversaries from his solo book, like Cryptomnesia, Catastrophobia, and Horrorscope. That said, artist Emilio Liaso looks superb, with a cartoony yet emotive style that would fit right in with Ed McGuinness or Frank Cho. There's some narrative meat in Herc's struggle to clean up his act, but unless you're a fan of Abnett's Hercules series, Gods of War is a fairly skill able affair.
Action Comics #957 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Lex Luthor; genius, futurist, and now, once again, Man of Tomorrow. Following the clunky “Last Days of Superman” Action Comics returns with the original numbering and a very busy story setting up the power struggle for the mantle of Metropolis’ protector. Writer Dan Jurgens, framing this debut as a follow up to his consistently solid Superman: Lois and Clark, quickly makes a compelling case for Luthor’s continued face turn as well as his capabilities as a combatant. However, things get muddy once the Supes from Lois and Clark makes the scene, starts throwing his weight around, and leading with his fists instead of his head, a complete 360-degree turn from the pragmatically protective Clark from that series. Jurgens further gums up the works with another Clark Kent and yet another appearance by a newly costumed Doomsday, a character whose welcome has worn smooth out. Though the script reads as overstuffed, artist Patrick Zircher’s clean lines and consistent eye for compelling blocking, along with Tomeu Morey’s bright, rich colors give Action Comics #957 a distinctly vibrant look and energy that puts the title back into step with the tone conjured by the title. Despite being a case of too much, too soon with too little real development, Action Comics #957 still offers an interesting first installment for the new era and if it undergoes some streamlining in the later issues could stand as a big win for the Superman line.
Injection #10 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): While the first arc worked much better as collection, Injection #10 ends the “second season” of the title with a contained and wickedly clever tenth installment that carries huge implications for the title upon its return. Using the tried and true “drawing room scene” narrative device, Warren Ellis and his new star character, Vivek Hedland, wrap up the central mystery with a biting set of exposition that displays Headland’s capacity for bluffing, his vast intelligence and his multitudes of entertaining sass along with hefty developments as to the evolving Injection and its looming presence over the title and its leads. Though containing little action, artists Declan Shalvey and particularly colorist Jordie Bellaire utilize engaging “camera” moves with their pages, keeping the talking characters look like they are in motion, despite their sparse movements. Bellaire though proves to be #10‘s MVP with an Roger Deakins-like command of color. She shifts colors and lighting choices all throughout this arc finale and its importance to the visual energy of the issue cannot be overstated. Starting with drab hunter greens and dirty looking white for the initial start of Headland’s laying out of the case, she amps up tension, comedic beats, and dread simply by flooding the panel with a different color to suit the mood of the particular panel; fantastic work made to look deceptively simple. After checking in with England’s new head “Breaker,” sewing that thread up for next time, and ending with a bold proclamation that “Injection Will Return At The End of The Year,” adding a nice serial-like coda onto the issue, Injection #10 ends its second season with a confident and contained finale that will leave fans counting the days until these weirdos return to shelves.
Detective Comics #934 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): DC Comics' new initiative, Rebirth, feels nothing like the New 52, and Detective Comics #934 exemplifies this point. James Tynion IV’s script does not read like a standard jumping-on point for new readers, and does require some Bat-knowledge to fill in the gaps on who Batman and Batwonan's team of Gotham City sidekicks and spin-offs are. The script, although a great example of putting a team together, is very dense and asks readers to follow along without a lot of action to break it up. However, if you are a fan of the Dark Knight before his reboot five years ago, you are going to love these characters getting back to their essence and playing around in the fringe corners of Batman’s war on crime. That being said, artist Eddy Barrows expertly directs this script and adds the details that makes Batman’s expanded universe so engaging.
Ninjak #16 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): As Matt Kindt delivers not one, but two major events for Valiant Entertainment, he is also barreling “The Siege of King’s Castle” to an explosive conclusion. Aided by the bloody yet down to earth artwork of Diego Bernard and Khoi Pham and a vicious back up story detailing King’s childhood (rendered with more blood-soaked precision by art team Andres Guinaldo, Brian Level and Chris Sotomayor), Ninjak #16 is a breakneck tale of Colin King, weaponless and alone, going to great lengths to take the fight to this arc’s antagonist, Roku. In stripping King of everything that made him so formidable as Ninjak, Matt Kindt delivers a low-fi example of King’s skill in spycraft and lethality even without his weapons and tech. Big revelations and introspective narration from the leading man bouy Ninjak #16 going into the finale of this arc as each issue has only gotten bigger while also delivering substantial developments in story. Though Kindt is working on an epic scope on other titles, Ninjak #16 shows that his big stories aren’t distracting him from his action-heavy tales of Valiant’s resident super-spy.
Sherlock: A Study in Pink #1 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Sherlock: A Study in Pink #1, an English reprint of the wildly popular manga adaptation by artist/writer Jay. is a strange experience. However, it is that strangeness that makes it such a fun read. Though the traditional reading style of right to left takes a bit to get a handle on (especially for those unaccustomed to reading manga), the stylishly heightened world of Sherlock lends itself surprisingly well to the medium. Centered around roughly the first thirty minutes of the pilot, this debut is an almost word for word translation of Steven Moffet and Mark Gatiss’ first episode but, it finds new energy in small details like emboldened Japanese language sound effects, curtly translated as cute block letters in the margins of the panels, and explosively expressive versions of the show’s cast. I had low expectations going into this debut, mainly due to knowing it was a literal adaptation, which often renders an adaptation inertly rote (looking your way, Watchmen movie). I am happy to report that I was dead wrong in my assumptions and Sherlock: A Study in Pink #1 injects new, wholly unexpected life into one of pop culture’s most widely known properties.