Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week’s installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off today’s column with Jack-of-all-trades Justin Partridge, as he takes a look at Star Wars #22…
Star Wars #22 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Jason Aaron highlights the resourcefulness and daring of the Rebel Alliance this month in Star Wars #22. Opening on an epic space battle with a Star Destroyer, rendered with a tense, tightly-packed style by artist Jorge Molina and colorist Matt Milla, Aaron pulls a classic bait-and-switch as what looks like a suicide mission for Han, Luke and Leia quickly reveals itself as a large scale heist of said Star Destroyer. Aaron’s handle on the core trio’s voices continues to impress as does his commitment to large scale storytelling. Molina and Milla also provide the title a playful energy as their expressive character models bicker and banter throughout. While last month’s issue put readers in the boots of an elite Stormtrooper squad, Star Wars #22 returns us to the core cast with a rousing and entertaining jaunt through space.
Detective Comics #939 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Tim Drake puts himself in the crosshairs in yet another strong outing for Detective Comics. After facing down the Colony on their turf, the Bat-family’s battle moves into Gotham, and in the face of innocents dying, Drake decides to make what could be the ultimate sacrifice. Still handling the strong themes of family and duty, James Tynion IV continues to knock it out of the park, character-wise, while still delivering rising action and stakes. Artist Eddy Barrows also impresses as he transitions from smooth dynamic blocking one panel and airbrushed close ups the next, harkening back to the visual dichotomy of previous issues. Tim Drake’s fate may be in question, but there is no question about just how good Detective Comics is and continues to be.
New Avengers #15 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partidge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s an assault on all fronts in New Avengers #15. Continuing his streak of clever captioning and raising stakes, Al Ewing strengthens Roberto da Costa’s position in the war against the Maker while at the same time allowing the team to gain more ground against rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett. This leads to explosions and double crosses aplenty with an unexpected jolt of pathos thanks to scene-stealer Pod. Artist Paco Medina, inker Juan Vlasco, and colorist Jesus Aburtov also revel in the madness with slick displays of superheroics backed by bold colors and heavy inks. Though the odds they face are great, New Avengers #15 shows that the team is still as cheeky as ever and ready to tackle whatever insanity is thrown their way.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval double their hot streak with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3, with some dynamic artwork anchoring a stripped-down, action-heavy script. Aside from some brief interludes with John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Sinestro, the lion’s share of this issue continues Hal Jordan’s one-man fight against a cadre of the Sinestro Corps, and this sequence proves to be some of the best work I’ve seen from Sandoval yet. There’s a real sureness to Sandoval’s action choreography that meshes well with his sleek, angular character designs, with Hal’s ever-present smirk in the face of overwhelming numbers being a great way to establish his character. But beyond all the fisticuffs, VendItti also digs a little deeper into Hal’s fears underneath his cocky veneer, as we catch a glimpse of the overwhelming pressures this longtime Green Lantern struggles to shoulder. This isn’t the most revolutionary or intelligent of superhero comic books, but when you’re as exciting as Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, you can get away with just plain fun.
Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): It’s Godzilla versus Gigan and Megalon for the fate of all of Japan. Writer Jeremy Robinson splits his time between two intrepid explorers in the present, investigating lost battle sites and a pair of Japanese warriors who are tasked with wrangling kaiju to defend their homeland. As far as hooks go, its a monster one and one that can deliver all manner of destruction across a myriad of destinations. Artist Matt Frank along with inker Mostafa Moussa and colorists Paul Hanley and Goncalo Lopes really lean into the art style of the period, delivering colossal action in a style fit for a shogun. With its dynamic, period-accurate art and the promise of more titanic kaiju action, Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 is a blockbuster start for the King of Monster’s latest series.
Wonder Woman #5 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Greg Rucka’s pacing on Wonder Woman is starting to slow down with its latest issue, but thankfully Liam Sharp’s dramatic and moody artwork keeps things lively. The majority of this issue focuses on Steve Trevor’s capture by Cadulo, the emissary of the dark demigod Urzkartaga - while there’s a decent bit where Trevor renounces Cadulo’s offer to “have” Wonder Woman (“You’ve got some toxic ideas of masculinity, dude,” Trevor fires back), much of this issue feels like it’s marking time, with Diana and the Cheetah trading exposition, while Rucka seeds some upcoming plot points with a conversation featuring Etta Candy and Sasha Bourdeaux. While the story feels a little slower than usual (which will be compounded by the alternating release schedule with Rucka’s “Wonder Woman: Year One” storyline), Sharp and colorist Laura Martin create some beautiful pages, such as a gorgeous opening cityscape or the eerie green prison of Urzkartaga. With art this good, the story is allowed a bit of a breather, but hopefully Wonder Woman will pick up the pace sooner rather than later.
Generation Zero #1 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Strange things are afoot in Rook, Michigan and a rogue gang of teen psiots are going to get to the bottom of it. Taking inspiration from shows like Misfits and comic books like Runaways, writer Fred Van Lente delivers the Valiant version of a teen team book as a young woman implores the secret team of powerhouses to help her investigate the mystery that took the life of her first love. While Van Lente nails the alienation and isolation of being a teen, this debut is made even more engaging by his eye for diversity and surrealism. Generation Zero is also given a nice stylish sheen thanks to Francis Portela’s smooth pencils and Andrew Dalhouse’s metallic tinged colors. As comics start to shift toward a more diverse readership, Generation Zero #1 confidentially places Valiant Entertainment in that very shift.
Dark Souls #4 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The first arc of Dark Souls comes to a grim, yet optimistic conclusion this month with issue four. As Fira’s quest nears its end, writer George Mann finally reveals the hidden past of our hero and has her crossing a major threshold in order to break the cycle of death that has dominated her existence since becoming a Cursed Undead. While narrative rich, artist Alan Quah along with the colors of Komikaki Studio and Sean Lee deliver their most epic visuals to date as Fira takes on the great dragon Andolus in a battle that is so big it takes up multiple double page splashes made up of visceral panel layouts of action. Optimism and happy(ish) endings are not something usually associated with his franchise, but Dark Souls #4 shows that there is nothing wrong with showing a bit of light amid the eldrich horrors and death-dealing.