Invincible Iron Man #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jon Arvedon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): After being introduced in Invincible Iron Man #7, Riri Williams has now taken center-stage in the newly renumbered Invincible Iron Man #1. Through alternating past and present narratives, Brian Michael Bendis does a tremendous job fleshing out Riri’s back-story. He effectively establishes her motivations for becoming a hero in the heartbreaking flashback sequences, while also delivering the quintessential action we’ve come to expect from an Iron Man book in the present-day plotline. Stefano Caselli’s art, particularly his use of digital enhancements, help dial up the intensity, making panels feel like still shots from an action movie. Meanwhile, Marte Gracia’s colors emit a warm radiance that accentuate the battles, as well as establish the ambiance during the more dramatic scenes. The introduction of Riri’s new A.I. on the final page promises to appeal to long-time Tony Stark fans, but Invincible Iron Man #1 also serves as a perfect jumping-on point for anyone looking to dive into the world of comics.
Mother Panic #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10) The latest Young Animal book to debut might be set in Gotham and deal with common scenarios you’d expect from a book set there, like socialite parties and gang violence, but make no mistake - this is not a Bat-family title. Violet Paige returns to the city she deems a “shit-hole” to enact some vigilante justice, but certainly not in the same way as Batman does. With a fighting style as blunt as her manner of speaking, Mother Panic is set apart from Cave Carson’s kitchen sink drama approach and the surrealism present in Doom Patrol and Shade The Changing Girl. Tommy Lee Edwards has created a striking costume; the piercing white grabs hold of your attention against the typical Gotham black present as does the vibrant stream of color throughout. In conjunction with sharply written flashbacks and dialogue penned by Jody Houser hinting at events that have already transpired, Gotham finds more shades of grey lurking in the shadows.
Avengers #1.1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10) Captain America didn’t have an easy job when he thawed out of the ice after World War II, the founding Avengers soon bowed out leaving him to form his ‘Kooky Quartet’ of reformed villains, a fact that Mark Waid highlights in this side story to the flagship title he’s also writing. Hawkeye and Cap have a respectful disdain for each other, Quicksilver is protective of Scarlet Witch, but fast to retort and she’s more measured in her journey to atone. The core characterization from those early Avengers issues is present here and Waid blends this with a fight against an early iteration of the Masters of Evil. Barry Kitson’s art which gives the story a modern feeling, but also grounds it in a house style, particularly with how many of the pages operate under a three tier paneling scheme. While the main Avengers title will hopefully be doing something new with Kang and time-travel, these .1 issues look like they’ll be providing a classic feeling team updated for a modern reading experience.
The Flash #10 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jon Arvedon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): This issue begins a new story arc, “The Speed of Darkness.” Despite being cannon fodder, Joshua Williamson introduces a new and somewhat intriguing villain called Papercut early in the issue. However, he merely serves as a plot device to further Barry and Wally’s developing in-costume partnership as the Flash and Kid Flash. Barry realizes he needs to teach Wally what it means to be a hero to avoid a repeat-Godspeed scenario, but his intentions are perceived by Wally as a lack of trust. The art in this issue is a huge improvement from the previous arc, thanks to Felipe Watanabe’s lively, animated style. Paired with Oclair Albert’s precise inks and Chris Sotomayor’s exuberant palette, the visuals explode off the page, making them a perfect accompaniment to the Central City Speedsters. The issue concludes with Wally finding himself in the clutches of the Shade, which, despite being calculated from the start of the issue, still hits its mark, and leaves you in suspense as you eagerly await the next chapter in this tale.
Casanova: Acedia #7 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10) As Casanova’s identity gets found out, he finds out he’s being taken for a ride in more ways than one as he starts to recall more and more about his life in the previous timeline. All the while Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon tend to the other plates they have spinning resulting in this frantic intercutting style of storytelling towards the explosive climax of the issue which suggests that all hell’s about to break loose. The sequences don’t all intertwine in the same way as Jackie Brown’s conclusion for example, but the book becomes filled with more and more shadow on every page turn indicating that none of the characters have the upper hand anymore. It’s a testament to Moon’s skill that even with all of these rapid location changes, the issue never loses a sense of flow or the plot. For a volume of the series that’s been a slow burn, even more so when contrasted with Avaritia’s pacing, this appears to be the ignition for full speed ahead.
Superwoman #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10) By writing a book about a protagonist dealing with anxiety, Phil Jimenez has been able to make Superwoman introspective through the patterned use of Lana’s narration. Before now, this has helped to fill the void that Lois’ untimely death left behind. But with the release of this issue, he’s been able to take that introspective nature and fill the void completely as Lana starts seeing Lois in a Sixth Sense style, restoring the buddy cop dynamic the pair shared without missing a beat. Despite Lois re-joining the cast of this book’s already impressive list of players, Jimenez’s writing in combination with Emanuela Lupacchino’s ability to block scenes means that no one gets side-lined to make way for Lois and instead means the series has found a way to bring back the dynamic some thought lost without reversing the emotional beats that worked so well.
WWE: Then. Now. Forever. #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Wrestling has often been called live action comic books and now BOOM! Studios has perfectly translated the action of the WWE to a rousing anthology. Written and drawn by some of the top talent in the industry, WWE: Then. Now. Forever. delivers stories ranging from the tense rise of Seth Rollins as a singles competitor and one of the top villains of the company to Sasha Banks emotional journey to realize her childhood dream. While the pace of the issue is faster than a surprise Money in the Bank cash-in and the art styles clash a bit, especially the lovably wacky New Day jaunt through time, WWE: Then. Now. Forever. #1 is a well-produced treat for wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike.
Star Trek: Boldly Go #2 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Kirk and his new crew face the terror of the Borg in Star Trek: Boldly Go #2. Writer Mike Johnson, connecting the series back to the origins of the Kelvin Timeline, fully establishes the might of the Borg while also placing Kirk and his new crew in a precarious situation in regards to the shaky peace with the Romulans. This balancing act gives the issue an extra jolt of tension as Kirk must decide if he should risk open war with the Romulans in order to save the hostages taken by the Borg. Artist Tony Shasteen and colorist Davide Mastrolonardo deliver some rousing ship combat action, balanced out by emotional character interactions in the quieter scenes. Armed with big action and even bigger political implications for Starfleet Star Trek: Boldly Go #2 keeps the new series in the fight.
Triggerman #2 (Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Triggerman #2 shows just how vicious Roy Nash can be when he’s on the job. Writer Matz gives the reader bloody context for the debut issue’s opening bloodbath, detailing Roy’s assignment and quickly sending him out into the wilds of the crime world in order to square the debt left by his two remaining targets. But while Matz’s rough and tumble script entertains, it is artist Jef’s hazy and out of the ordinary artwork that truly shines in this second installment. Jef’s characters are somewhat nightmarish caricatures of goons and hitmen, while his backgrounds and set dressings take on an almost dream-like look made complete with rich colors dominated by ambers and golds. The world of Triggerman is an ugly one, but Matz and Jef work to make it look beautiful.
Dark Souls: Winter’s Spite #1 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The second series of Dark Souls revels in the cycle of death and despair that dominates the game series. Writer George Mann returns to the series to deliver a tale about a battle hardened knight on a quest to reclaim his ancestral weapon, but first he must escape from captivity and a hellish frozen wasteland. Artist Alan Quah adapts well to the new snowy setting, making the tundra and the monsters found therein look just as intimidating and deadly as he did in the first series. But unlike the first series, Quah is given much more room to play in terms of panel construction, which he takes full advantage of here. Filled with dread and plenty of recognizable foes from the franchise Dark Souls: Winter’s Spite #1 is another gloomy winner from Titan Comics.