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 Dancin’ Draven Katayama, as he kicks off today’s column with All-New Wolverine Annual #1…
All-New Wolverine Annual #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Riffing off Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s iconic Ultimate Spider-Man tale, Wolverine Laura Kinney and Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy swap bodies in this funny standalone story by writer Tom Taylor and artist Marcio Takara. Laura and Gwen develop a fast friendship as Laura accidentally breaks things with her newfound super-strength. Taylor also introduces a compelling new character while keeping Gabby at the core of Laura's life. I like how this book’s supporting characters, especially the Mary Janes and George Stacy, exhibit lots of personality through Marcio Takara's detailed expressions and outfits. Mat Lopes' high-contrast colors set the stage for this mystery tale perfectly, from Laura's neighborhood at dusk to a crowded concert venue. All-New Wolverine delivers both intriguing plot threads and heartwarming moments between Laura and Gabby.
Justice League of America #9 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It’s Doctor Who meets The Brave and the Bold this month in Justice League of America #9. With a Flash and Green Lantern-centered story, writer/artist Bryan Hitch starts to bring Rao’s grand plan to fruition but gets tripped up due to dry exposition and confusing time travel hijinks. Thankfully, Hitch’s widescreen art style hasn’t missed a beat. Backed by the heavy ink brush of Daniel Henriques and the darkened colors of Alex Sinclair, Hitch’s pages still look like the kind of multi-million dollar JLA story that only comics can provide, even if the script is a bit lackluster this month. Though it may not be DC’s most engaging read this week, Justice League of America #9 still looks great and sets the title up for an explosive denouement next time it hits shelves.
Ms. Marvel #10 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Civil War II hits home for Kamala this month in Ms. Marvel #10. Opening with an emotional flashback from original series artist Adrian Alphona, G. Willow Wilson puts Kamala’s guilt about Bruno front and center this week along with her increasing doubts about her squad’s predictive justice crusade. This all adds up to an emotional growing experience for the young hero and an interesting, personal feeling rumination on the human cost of big event comics. Regular series artist Takeshi Miyazawa and colorist Ian Herring aren’t given much to do action wise apart from a minor dust up between Kamala and the squad’s leader Becky, but still they absolutely nail the emotion found in the issue along with providing some dynamic color shifts. Kamala Kahn may have put on the mask to help people but as Ms. Marvel #10 shows, she may not be able to save everyone.
Afterlife With Archie #10 (Published by Archie Horror; Review by Justin Partidge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Afterlife With Archie takes a break from its H.P. Lovecraftian road movie horror to deliver a spooktacular jaunt through the ages with Josie and the Pussycats. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa trades the zombie horror of the main story for a creepy and strangely emotional vampire story as he recounts the origins of the Pussycats, starting from 1906 leading up to the zombie outbreak in Riverdale. Artist Fransesco Francavilla is still at the top of his game with this series, delivering darkly beautiful pages punctuated with his dynamic panel layouts throughout each time period while also providing plenty of blood and fangs when called upon to do so. While its sporadic release schedule is still proving to be a headache, Afterlife With Archie #10 is a bloody good interlude to sate readers until the gang gets back on the road.
James Bond #9 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Bond is tasked with a deniable operation this month in James Bond #9. As Warren Ellis’ tenure with the superspy is drawing to a close, he once again steps out of artists Jason Masters and Guy Major’s way, front-loading the issue with exposition and a dryly funny Q Branch scene, and allowing the artists to do what they do best; tensely blocked visual storytelling. And, make no mistake, this ninth issue is a tense one. From the hidden weapons in the hands of Moneypenny and Bill Tanner in the opening scene to the ending shootout in underground tunnels, Masters and Major wring every bit of delicious tension they can out of each page, continuing their streak of thrilling action plotting. Though the Ellis, Masters, and Major era of James Bond is nearing its end, issue #9 promises that it will end with a bang.
The X-Files: Origins #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Mulder and Scully get the Young Adult treatment in IDW Publishing’s The X-Files: Origins. Starting with Jody Houser and Chris Fenoglio’s story, which casts Mulder as a downtrodden kid looking for an escape and wrapping up with Matthew Dow Smith, Corin Howell, and Monica Kubina’s tale which finds Scully facing death for the first time, this debut is a novel approach to the pair. While both Houser and Smith capture the personalities of the characters and presents some conspiratorial overtones as well, the issue really succeeds thanks to its exploration of the character’s feelings of isolation and alienation as well as their tenacity and curiosity, making them feel in tone with their TV adult counterparts. Though the wildly different art styles takes a bit to adjust to, The X-Files: Origins #1 is a solid start for the new youth-centered series.
Lazarus #24 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Draven Katayama; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Forever Carlyle is reeling from the truth about her genetically engineered origin and her forced role as protector of the Carlyle family. We get an emotional scene when Forever finally confronts her father, but that's just the beginning. Greg Rucka ups the ante by having Johanna push Forever's buttons with more revelations. The intense family drama of this book is punctuated by Michael Lark's gruesome, injury-ridden action sequences. Lark, Tyler Boss, and Santi Arcas create a scene of pure panic when a Lazarus attacks a motorcade. Arcas' fiery orange explosions and generous blood against dark teal backgrounds has a riveting effect. Lazarus combines family dynamics and fast-paced, athletic combat like no other comic book.
Rick and Morty: Lil’ Poopy Superstar #2 (Published by Oni Press; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Fame isn’t all its cracked up to be in Rick and Morty: Lil’ Poopy Superstar #2. After coming clean to Summer about his immense fame on his home planet, Mr. Poopybutthole hatches a plan to reveal himself in order to assuage the guilt he felt in leaving them. Sarah Graley mines some unexpected pathos out of the intensely silly character and provides some even sillier gags this time around, the standout being the viciousness of PB’s fans upon hearing he is back among them. Graley’s wavy and slightly exaggerated style still suits the title very well, as does the bright yet mundane colors of Mildred Louis. By keeping with the show’s heart first then jokes approach to storytelling, Rick and Morty: Lil’ Poopy Superstar #2 continues to stand as a worthwhile spin-off series.