Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday rapids? Best Shots has your back, with this week’s installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off today’s column with Marvelous Matthew Sibley, as he takes a look at the final issue of Darth Vader…
Darth Vader #25 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The “End of Games” arc and the series itself comes to an end here as Vader moves to eliminate the last threat in his sights (currently) – Cylo. A larger page count for the issue allows Gillen to take the widescreen comics approach to this showdown, and as he proved back on Invincible Iron Man, Larocca’s talents shine when he’s being given scenes with mechanical elements like TIE fighters and Vader’s suit itself in intricate detail. It’s anticlimactic to an extent; part of that’s down to knowing where Vader starts out at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, but it does complete the narrative arc the Sith Lord’s been on since Issue #1. The issue caps off the run with an intriguing set-up for Gillen’s next Star Wars project, as well as a coda with art by Max Fiumara that relates to Issue #1, bringing the series full circle both narratively and thematically.
Supergirl #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Most of us know that if we ever need it, home is there for us. Others, like Kara Danvers, have learned to accept that home and the people who live there are gone. As a result, it’s believable she wouldn’t just believe the first person to tell her this isn’t necessarily fact. Most of the issue is spent grappling with this conundrum, but Orlando never lets the scenario become too dour. It’s a book in the Super-family - there should be always be some modicum of hope present at all times. The issue also makes strides to sync up with the show by bringing in Cat Grant. This and Kara’s interactions at home help to build a slice-of-life or young adult spine to the book, assisted by Brian Ching and Mike Atiyeh who get the chance to capture incredibly powerful beings in action, but also in their downtime. The colors feel warm, and Kara’s strength feels realized in an issue which continues to be just as joyful as the show, so mission accomplished.
Reborn #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Despite having a title more than a little similar to a certain popular DC Comics initiative, the first issue of Mark Millar and Greg Capello’s Reborn actually seems to share more in common with Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian, as we follow an everywoman on her harrowing journey to an otherworldly battlefield in the afterlife. Unlike Joe, however, Millar spends most of this first issue introducing his character, Bonnie Black, just before she shuffles off this mortal coil — while it starts off a little slow and antiseptic as Bonnie worries about her impending demise in a retirement home, once Millar peppers the script with tender flashbacks of Bonnie’s youth, it’s easier to get invested. But most surprising in this book is Greg Capullo’s art, particularly since beyond a fairly gory introduction, this debut issue feels mostly down to earth, before crescendoing into a truly spectacular roller coaster ride to the afterlife (complete with a truly iconic-looking design for the rejuvenated and reborn Bonnie). Fans may be disappointed in this debut issue’s decompression, which only gives us a taste of the real action, but the potential behind Reborn seems undeniable.
Deadpool #20 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Coming out during the same week as World Mental Health Day, Deadpool #20 might be the sweetest and most endearing story featuring the Merc With a Mouth that I’ve ever seen. Starting off as almost a dark riff on the iconic All-Star Superman scene, having Wade be the only thing stopping a young girl from committing suicide feels like an odd fit at first, but given the character’s rapid-fire sense of humor and his own canonical struggles with depression and mental illness — not to mention his tremendous jump in Q-rating thanks to a certain Fox film — it’s a nice change of pace to have Deadpool really step up to the plate as a symbol of joy for readers. Gerry Duggan not only peppers this script with some laugh-out-loud moments (like Deadpool accidentally kicking a door in on an old lady), but has a really compassionate streak to this whole story, particularly in the way that he destigmatizes seeking professional help. Matteo Lolli, meanwhile, gives this comic the right kind of bouncy energy to make it a fun and engaging read, while never shying away from the sadness and rage bubbling underneath this story. If you know someone who struggles with depression, buy them this book — your compassion, as well as Duggan and Lolli’s, might make all the difference.
Wonder Woman #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Barbara Ann finds herself at the center of her own Greek tragedy in this aptly titled “Interlude” from Greg Rucka and artist Bilquis Evely, who will be taking over for Nicola Scott once she returns to Black Magick. The future Cheetah proves to be just as determined and competent as Wonder Woman in her search for evidence of the Amazons in a quest that does everything it can to take her hope in addition to who she holds dear. Consistency is very much the key to this issue not feeling out of place, considering not only is this series regularly telling alternate stories each issue, but this is also taking time out from the "Year One" arc. Rucka continues to portray strong women well, while Evely’s art is akin to Scott’s and will clearly be a fine replacement in the near future. Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors continue to highlight the relevant elements in the scene. Put these all together and you get another high quality issue of Wonder Woman.
Warlords of Appalachia #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Philip Kennedy Johnson and Jonas Scharf deliver a fully-realized, semi-post-apocalyptic world in Warlords of Appalachia, which mixes political extremism and Robin Hood-style rebellion into a perfectly balanced narrative. With Kentucky serving as almost a Kosovo-style hotbed of militarism and distrust, Johnson spends much of this issue just building up his world, complete with a Rush Limbaugh-style radio host serving as a propaganda-spewing Commander in Chief. His protagonist, the arrow-slinging Kade Mercer, still feels a little underdeveloped as he narrowly navigates the various warring factions of this world, but his love for his drug-impaired son gives this character some needed texture. Artist Jonas Scharf, meanwhile, provides a solid foundation for Warlords, his angular and time-worn characters making almost as big of an impression as his beautiful vistas. While the characterization could use some ramping up in future installments, the actual world building of Warlords of Appalachia should make this a must-read on your pull list.
Old Man Logan #12 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): There are few artists in the superhero business as visceral and intense as Andrea Sorrentino, and his artwork combined with Marcelo Maiolo’s colors makes for an eye-popping issue of Old Man Logan. Writer Jeff Lemire’s story is a simple one — Logan is at the mercy of a telekinetic youngster who knows that the Wolverine is meant to kill him some day in the future — but the ouroboros of time travel is largely just window dressing, as Wolverine’s punishment winds up becoming something beautiful in Sorrentino and Maiolo’s hands. (In particular, a page of Logan falling through his past is a beautiful way to show exposition, while a double-page spread featuring panels shaped like dragons is an unwieldy but ambitious way to punch up the story.) While I might argue that the emotional content is a little underdeveloped — Lemire’s flashbacks to Logan aren’t quite enough to hook in new readers or remind returning readers why this character is on a noble quest — the visuals are so stellar that the artwork alone is worth the price of admission.
Weavers #6 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): “Up to your ass in it, huh, Siddy?” Truer words have never been spoken in the final issue of Weavers as Sid does his best to get Pneema out of the criminal web. This conveys an energy into the book and artist Dylan Burnett utilizes it to create organized chaos when the plan goes to hell. The chaos is also easy to understand thanks to colorist Triona Farrell, whose palette creates sharp contrasts between elements involved – characters’ positioning is always clear, for example. Spurrier also gets chance to unravel the web of conspiracies that has fuelled this miniseries over the six issues meaning there are some surprises that get uncovered to show prior events in a new light. This is by no means Spurrier’s strongest work after his X-Men: Legacy run and his previous miniseries The Spire, but that doesn’t mean Weavers is something to sleep on.