Happy NYCC Friday, ‘Rama readers! Our Fearless Leader is off doing convention things, but the Best Shots Team still has you covered. Let’s kick off this week’s pellets with the Magical Matthew Sibley and Superman…
Superman #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The New Frontier holds a special place in my heart. It is a definitive DC story, so when it was revealed that Tomasi would be taking us back to Dinosaur Island, I was apprehensive something would be missing. Luckily, Tomasi, Gleason, Mankhe, Mendoza, and Quintana provide an issue that’s both grand in scale and layered with respect for the late Darwyn Cooke. The issue continues to put the father/son relationship at the forefront of the series as Clark and Jon fend for survival in a strange location against beasts out for blood. Mankhe’s paneling allows for kinetic and clean action, as well as cutting around the space to show the other elements of the scene like a director would shoot coverage. Overall, the team deserves massive praise for crafting an issue which had me reaching for my New Frontier collection to compare similar scenes. "Rebirth" is about legacy and what is legacy, if not paying respect to Cooke’s magnum opus about the everlasting heroes?
Shade the Changing Girl #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The ever-coveted and frequently misrepresented teenage girl is given multi-faceted life in Shade the Changing Girl. The first issue moves and feels like wildfire as Loma Shade rides the Madness to Earth, and inhabits the comatose, former bully, Megan Boyer. In the same way that the reader is adjusting to the bizarre, densely-detailed story, Loma’s grasp on this new world is slippery at best. Artist Marley Zarcone has drawn each panel with vivid chaos and intense care. Zarcone’s stark linework, youthful style and well-placed negative space capture the spirit of this book impeccably. Her work is exemplified by the full range of brilliant colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick. Their work here is definitive, and by far the star of the show. Once you adjust to the kinesis of Shade the Changing Girl #1, its oddity leaves a rainbow of curiosity for the issues to come.
Batman #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Part 4 of the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover pits Batman and Batwoman against the monster-fied Nightwing and Gotham Girl in in issue that feels like more of the same. While it progresses the main plot that King has been telling since the start of his run and allows both Duke and Clayface time in the spotlight, it’s gotten repetitive on the whole. Rossmo’s eye for scale means he devotes the appropriate amount of space on the page to each moment and Plascencia’s colours help these Batman issues to be the most visually stunning parts of the crossover, but like Detective Comics last week, it doesn’t do anything new to shake things up and creates the impression this crossover doesn’t have enough plot to sustain six issues which is disappointing to say the least.
Nightwing #6 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): While Nightwing makes for a more tense issue of the series as the walls seem to close in on the Bat-family, the attempt to up the stakes falls flat due to it just being a larger monster. It makes for an antagonist that’s Terminator-esque in hunting down Nightwing and Spoiler. The design is certainly on par with how grotesque the Monster Men have looked, but bigger doesn’t mean better. The issue adds in meaning to the Monster Men’s creation, but this late in the game it feels like an afterthought. The set up for an intimate capstone to the crossover is intriguing, but it hasn’t come early enough to keep the monotony at bay which has been slowly creeping in and taking hold since Nightwing’s previous issue.
Bloodshot Reborn #18 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Jeff Lemire delivers an anthology-like cool down issue after the rousing action that was “Bloodshot Island.” As the Bloodshot castaways float on the ocean toward civilization, Lemire has them recount their origins with varying results. Though knowing exactly how Tank Man, Cold Man, and Vietman were created and forged in battle is interesting Bloodshot Reborn #18 doesn’t really add anything to the larger narrative, nor does it offer any clues about what we can expect from the next miniseries, Bloodshot USA. Tomas Giorello, Diego Rodriguez, and Andrew Dalhouse’s artwork still impresses however; their chalky, yet expressive pencils and colors still standing as a consistent high point for this series. Though this issue might leave readers a bit cold, Lemire and company still make pulling back the curtain on the Bloodshots an intriguing experience.
Giant Days #19 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Put on your wellies, Giant Days is taking us to a festival. The staples are all here - drugs, mud, portapotties and our trio of protagonists have to contend with their fair share of each. There’s always a risk that moving a book away from its usual setting will cause it to stumble, but that’s by no means the case here because the book’s focus continues to be building plot from character which makes the book elastic - whatever it wants to be, it can be molded into that shape. The bubbly dynamic of their friendship perseveres thanks to John Allison loading each page with humor. It’s remarkable how he’s able to make each issue dense with detail without overloading the page with dialogue. This allows Max Sarin’s linework to shine; capturing the character’s expressions perfectly. The trio’s first year at university ended with many roads open for exploration and while it’ll be pleasant to return to Sheffield next month, this is a delightful experience that most series would be hard pressed to provide.
Eclipse #2 (Published by Top Cow Productions; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): While writer Zack Kaplan and artist Giovanni Timpano delivered a rousing sci-fi world in their first installment of Eclipse, their sophomore effort leans a bit too heavily into the realm of police procedural, rather than fleshing out their evocative high concept further. Starting off with a look at the solar flare that killed millions of people, the horror doesn’t quite connect, in part because colorist Chris Northrop doesn’t really distinguish between the past and present-day scenes, resulting in a visual experience that’s easy to trip over. Yet Kaplan does regain his footing after a shaky start, with the idea of a serial killer who can survive the sun’s killer rays makes for a dangerous adversary, particularly with one scene involving a glass rooftop and some very easily shreddable protective suits. But this book’s best hook - namely, how do you live in a world where daylight is lethal? - feels glossed over here, with bits like an underground suburbia or the outside infrastructure not quite getting the narrative or visual spotlight they might deserve. Sophomore outings can always be tough, but I think there’s still plenty of angles Eclipse can take to recover its shining promise.
Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s two Kurt Russells for the price of one in Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1! Dragged through a trans-dimensional portal in the middle of a route, ol’ Jack Burton is mistaken for the legendary soldier and dragged into a mission to save America’s cultural treasures. Writer Greg Pak delivers a fun and weird justification for this crossover and adapts well to the voices of the cult heroes, especially the endearing dumbness of Jack Burton. Artist Daniel Bayliss, backed by the colors of Triona Farrell, present a post-apocalypse that actually looks fun with its outlandish costumes and searingly bright colors, melding the styles of the two John Carpenter classics. With a firm understanding of the characters, stylish art, and outlandish plot Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 has all the makings of the kind of cult crossover you could only get from comics.
Godzilla: Rage Across Time #2 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The Greek Pantheon is brought low by the fury of Godzilla this week in Godzilla: Rage Across Time #2. Setting the story mainly on Mount Olympus this issue, writers Chris Mowry and Kahlil Schweitzer, with the help of mythology consultants Marena Bronson and Shannon Kermath-Turner, pepper in some godly hubris as their worshippers abandon their faith and leave them powerless in the face of Godzilla. Also in keeping with their over-arcing plot, Mowry and Schweitzer put Godzilla again at the center of another historical disaster, making Big G not just a force of nature, but a force of history. Penciler Tadd Galusha and colorist Jay Fotos give this issue a smooth polish on Olympus but get straight up bone crunching once Godzilla and the mythical Hydra lock up for the title’s big set piece. Though armed with plenty of kaiju action Godzilla: Rage Across Time #2 reveals that this series might have more on its mind than just awesome Godzilla action.
Triggerman #1 (Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): There’s booze and bullets a’plenty in Hard Case Crime’s comic book debut Triggerman #1. Working from an original story by legendary filmmaker Walter Hill, writer Matz, translated by Edward Gauvin, presents a dusty tale centered around stoic buttonman Roy Nash in 1932. While Matz isn’t giving much away in this first issue, his focused script hooks readers just enough to get them interested while keeping their attention with a daring prison break and thrilling opening shoot out. Artist Jef also delivers a nicely baited hook with his hazy, Heavy Metal-like art, making this debut look less like an old crime movie and more like a stylish indie comic, complete with airbrushed backgrounds and ribbon like sound effects floating across the page. Keeping firmly in the tradition of the publishing imprint Triggerman #1 is a worthy debut for Hard Case Crime and another impressive feather in the cap of Titan Comics.
The Killer Inside Me #2 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Lou Ford’s murderous plan comes to fruition this week in The Killer Inside Me #2. After luring both Joyce Lakeland and Elmer Conway into his trap, Lou puts back on his mask of civility in order to ride out the ensuing fallout. Devin Faraci again plays up the duality of Ford with severely affective (and severely creepy) results as he displays Lou’s charm and affability as well as his murderous, yet collected rage. Artist Vic Malhotra and colorist Jason Millet also lean into Lou’s two faces, starting this issue off with an explosive and frankly, hard to look at display of violence only to ease back into the rustic Texas visuals and warm colors that made the first issue so beautiful. The heat may be off Lou Ford for now but The Killer Inside Me #2 shows readers the real monster hiding under his easy smile.
James Bond #10 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): SPECTRE once again rears its ugly head in James Bond #10. After escaping from the Box Tunnel, Bond takes a prisoner and the truth about Eidolon and its connection to MI5 and SPECTRE is finally out in the open. Warren Ellis, going full old school spy thriller here, ratchets up the tension and mistrust between MI5 and 6 as this issue barrels toward its taut cliffhanger conclusion. Artist Jason Masters delivers yet another rousing action sequence in the issue’s opening, made even better by the moody shadows of Guy Major. But while Masters and Major’s eye for action has long been a high point for this series, it is their cleverly cinematic panel construction that steals this show this time around, in particular the framing of Bond and Tanner’s interrogation of the captured Eidolon agent. While the issues we have left with this arc are growing perilously few, issue ten proves that this creative team has no intention of ending this series with a whimper.