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 Vicarious Vanessa Gabriel, as she takes a look at the latest issue of Wonder Woman…
Wonder Woman #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 9 out 10): Few writers have defined the voice of Diana of Themyscira as dignified and emotionally resonant. Wonder Woman #2 revisits “Year One” for Diana, and so often her desire to leave Themyscira reads as petulant and naive. Instead, we’re presented with her wholly relatable view of knowing there is more, but never having seen it. And the other side of that coin is that the Gods have granted the Amazons who have seen and suffered the world beyond safety. In a few lines, Greg Rucka does what many have failed to do – humanize the Amazons. Going further with the strong characterization, Steve Trevor is given life in a way that we’ve not seen before. The contrast of Steve’s perspective set beside Diana’s is beautifully and warmly illustrated by Nicola Scott. This creative team is an impeccable match for Diana’s origin story, and Wonder Woman #2 is a wonderfully compelling start for our princess.
The Vision #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Vision #9 continues the title’s poetic and heartbreaking march toward its grim conclusion. Writer Tom King brings the focus onto Victor Mancha, his struggles with civilian life, and his unexpected role in Agatha Harkness’ violently tragic prophecy. Gabriel Herandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire also continue to deliver visual feasts like the effective repeated angle of Victor getting punched in the face by various villains to illustrate his life as a hero and Bellaire’s engrossing use of color throughout; the yellow of Victor’s jacket and shirt providing a strong colored anchor point through the entirety of #9. We don’t have many issues of The Vision left, but this creative team is making sure that every issue until the title’s end hits as hard as possible.
Morning Glories #50 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma wrap up their second season of Morning Glories with a bang, even while sustaining the mysteries that have fueled this series for five years. It’s amazing to see that what started off as a quiet if malevolent teenage story has turned into what can only be described as a whirlwind of violence and tension, but Spencer deftly bounces between his characters as all hell breaks loose — in particular, Ian and Fortunato have a particularly violent and chilling encounter, while Jun’s nigh-hysteria at the thought of resurrecting his brother makes this comic feel particularly frenetic. Artist Joe Eisma deserves a lot of credit for carrying this oversized book, while still being able to sell all the fear and occasional insanity in his characters’ eyes (especially when they get as viciously brutalized as they do). But best of all, the twists are all so crazy that it fits in perfectly with Morning Glories’ The Prisoner aesthetic, which will make loyal readers salivate for this series’ return.
Conan the Slayer #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Bleeding and hunted, Conan of Cimmeria is more dangerous than even in Conan the Slayer #1. Writer Cullen Bunn throws himself into Conan’s violent world with aplomb, presenting a Conan that is beaten and broken and sets him smack in the middle of a manhunt after his band of reavers are slaughtered; the dark-haired warrior himself being the only survivor. Artists Sergio Davila and Michael Atiyeh render Bunn’s prose heavy script with equal attention to violence, drawing Conan like a craggy and muscular force of nature as he tears through his enemies in dazzling displays of blood-soaked violence. Conan the Slayer #1 delivers vintage Conan thrills with a script that is respectful to the tone of Robert E. Howard without being slavish along with some thrilling displays of blood letting from a game art team.
Action Comics #959 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): There are still too many super-cooks in the kitchen this month in Action Comics #959: Though energized by a truly harrowing fight between Superman and Doomsday, given further life by the kinetic pencils of Tyler Kirkham and the vibrant colors of Arif Prianto, Dan Jurgens’ script is consistently hamstrung by a Clark Kent that feels the need to assert his mundane existence every few pages to pretty much any character that interacts with him. While Doomsday has over-stayed his welcome at this point, Jurgens keeps the hits coming, tempering the action with emotional scenes between Lois and Jon back at home. That said Action Comics is still in need of either some forward movement on the Clark Kent Mystery or some major housecleaning in order to shake off the doldrums.
All-New X-Men #11 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): All-New X-Men’s contributions to “Apocalypse Wars” comes to an abrupt end this month with #11. Though Dennis Hopeless presents some interesting rumination on the butterfly effect of removing Apocalypse from the timeline of the X-Men, he never really capitalizes on it due to his laser focus on getting Evan and Hank back to the present. Artist Mark Bagley, inker Andrew Hennessy, and colorist Nolan Woodard provide some slick and kinetic artwork for this eleventh installment, but even still it all feels empty since its in service of a crossover event that never really affected this title in the first place. All-New X-Men #11 is still much more vibrant than some of the other dour X-titles at the moment, but this month’s installment can’t avoid ringing hollow.
New Super-Man #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Kenan Kong is not a likeable character at first. He's a ragingly insecure bully with the kind of vapid arrogance frequented by the teenage brain. Through a series of fortunate events, he’s hoisted into meta-humanity. So, it would follow that New Super-Man will be a coming of age story. The catch is that it is Chinese analogue style. From Laney Lan, the reporter who catches him standing up to the local super-villain, to the chubby and adorable target of his harassment, Luo Lixin, who's destined to be a Jimmy Olsen – the parallels get a bit heavy-handed. Still, New Super-Man #1 allows for thorough character set-up, the plot is as straight-forward and clean as they come, and the panels are colorful and kinetic. This is a solid start that could turn out to be quite fun.
Prometheus: Life and Death #2 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): For a issue about a squad of Colonial Marines squaring of against an Engineer, Prometheus: Life and Death #2 is shockingly dull. Though a xenomorph attack livens up the final few pages, Dan Abnett’s script keeps the cast mostly bickering and waxing philosophical instead of moving the plot along. Andrea Mutti and Rain Beredo’s art gives a sketchy, rough hewn look that suits the rough and tumble life of a Colonial Marine well, especially in the finale xenomorph attack, but, unfortunately, they are still stuck mostly drawing characters arguing for the majority of the page count. Dark Horse’s Prometheus line has offered up everything from abject horror to tight action, but Life and Death #2 feels too pedestrian to offer up anything nearly as fun as the previous series.
Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #4 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Writers Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby deliver another thrilling Classic Doctor Who installment with The Fourth Doctor #4. As the penultimate issue of the miniseries, Rennie and Beeby up the stakes considerably as Sarah Jane is still stuck in stone and the villainous Lady Emily has discovered the TARDIS. The pair also continue to stay true to Tom Baker’s irrepressible energy and charm as the Doctor. Artist Brian Williamson along with colors from Hi-Fi finally give is a look as the titular Medusa and it proves well worth the wait as it slinks and hisses through the pairs dark and ominous cavern set. Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor may have taken a while to well and truly kick off, but the fourth issue sets up the mini-series for a thrilling conclusion worthy of the classic serials.