Greetings, 'Rama Readers! Dancin' David Pepose here, back with your cure for a holiday hangover in the form of 2017's first round of Best Shots Reviews. I'll kick things off by passing the baton to Joltin' Justin Partridge with a review of Future Quest #8.
Future Quest #8
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Lettering by Dave Lanphear
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Future Quest returns to shelves with a bold new look but the same Saturday morning fun in the latest issue. Along with guest artist Ariel Olivetti and his textured pencils, Jeff Parker sends our ragtag team of Hanna-Barbera A-listers on a rescue mission to save the captured Dr. Quest. As if that wasn’t enough, the new Mightor and Birdman get a first hand look at the monstrous form of series antagonist Omnikron in a battle that spills into the Hollywood Bowl where the Impossibles are trying to revive a battered Space Ghost.
Though the momentary loss of Doc Shaner takes a bit of wind out of the title’s sails, Ariel Olivetti’s take on the story is so specific and energetic in its own way that the story, thankfully, doesn’t suffer much. Couple that with Jeff Parker’s increasingly trippy and propulsive script and you have a worthy return to shelves for the heroes that once graced the airwaves.
With Dr. Quest in the hands of F.E.A.R. and a massive vortex forming in Los Angeles, the heroes of Future Quest go on the offensive. Jeff Parker, who has displayed a steady hand at serialized storytelling throughout this series, finally has all the characters he wants in play and now turns to the task of bringing them all together as a Saturday morning supergroup in the face of Omnikron. Usually this kind of slow-going team-building would irk me, but Parker has made the journey to get there such fun, the moments when certain character’s meet, like when Birdman and Mightor save the Herculoids from oblivion within the vortex in this issue, play like genuinely big moments.
Better still, the plot of Future Quest continues to hum along with flexibly fun comic book logic. Dotted with great character moments like Ty learning to control his newly found power as Mightor and Jan regaining her memory in a pathos heavy half page splash from Olivetti, Parker’s script is continually expanding, both in cast and plot. Though it can’t exactly be called researched hard superhero science fiction, it can and should be called a whole heap of fun. I was a touch worried going into this issue that Future Quest would start to lose its steam either in this issue or perhaps eventually, but thankfully this eighth issue delivers the same kind of madcap yet character-focused installment that made the series such a hit in the first place.
Finally addressing the Tundro-sized elephant in the room, Ariel Olivetti is not Doc Shaner and, despite what you might think, that ends up working heavily in Future Quest #8's favor. To use an apt metaphor, if Shaner’s pencils were slick animation then Ariel Olivetti’s pencils and colors are the heavy brushed animation cels that would then be sent to be animated. Olivetti’s tactile and pencil shadowed style gives the series a whole new energy and tone, instantly distancing it from the Shaner led issues but keeping the series looking a different kind of great until Shaner returns to the fold. Also a win in Olivetti’s favor is his straight-laced take on the overall cast. While Shaner tends to lean toward the stylish and cartoony aspects of the characters, Olivetti details them like genuine heroes, cutting impressive figures against his detailed and hazily colored backgrounds.
Armed with a large, but well-used cast and a differently dynamic set of visuals, Future Quest #8 continues to be the fun dark horse series you can tell your friends about to look like a reader in the know. Writer Jeff Parker shifts comfortably between the intimate and the epic, handling these beloved properties with respect while delivering a consistently entertaining story with them. Guest artist and colorist Ariel Olivetti makes the most of his time with the title, presenting a wildly alternative, but still compelling take on the visuals keeping this series in the black in terms of artistic acumen and style. Though certainly not as flashy as the previous issues, Future Quest #8 still delivers thrills akin to dumping a whole trunk of action figures at your feet and coming up with the biggest, craziest story you can for them.
G.I. Joe #1
Written by Aubrey Sitterson
Art by Giannis Milonogiannis and Lovern Kindzierski
Lettering by Chris Mowry
Published by IDW Publishing
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
“The Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe” returns with a new team, a new mandate, and new threats in the fast-paced G.I. Joe #1. Written by G.I. Joe X Street Fighter scribe Aubrey Sitterson, this debut shakes up the Joes in the wake of the line-wide event Revolution, giving them a new base and new commanding officer in the form of Scarlett. But while all the weapons and tech may be brand-new, this debut issue strikes a great balance between being a jumping-on point as well as a reverent continuation of the series with plenty of high-flying action and cool characters in between.
In the aftermath of Revolution, the Joes find their world completely changed. With a repurposed Cybertronian sub as their new mobile base of operations, Scarlett has now transformed the team from American peace-keeping organization to a worldwide safety net, available to help any and all countries who ask against all manner of threats. While this debut succeeds by being fun and big, a slight drawback is that the post-Revolution continuity is a bit hard to crack. Without a proper recap of all the Hasbro-related craziness that has recently engulfed the IDW universe, readers are slightly out to sea as to why there is now a Decepticon in the Joe's ranks or why certain characters are missing, but thankfully this debut moves too fast to get fully bogged down by it.
Aubrey Sitterson, who proved to be a steady hand with big casts with the Joe/Street Fighter crossover from earlier in the year, is very much in his element with G.I. Joe #1. Opening with a thrilling chase through Toyko and quickly establishing the new field team, Sitterson hits the ground with the Joes in a dead heat, opening this issue with a bang in order to clue readers in early for the kind of story they are in for. Afterward, he expands outward, having Scarlett lay out the new Joe mandate of global protection, introducing the team’s new heavy, reformed Decepticon Skywarp, and quickly bringing to light the new threats the Joes will face in upcoming issues.
But while Sitterson’s plots impress in this debut, his character work is nothing to scoff at either. His Scarlett is a coolly confident leader, adjusting well to her new post and determined to the Joes a better organization than how she found it. The rest of the team bounces well off each other, both in terms of comedy and drama. The inclusion of Skywarp gives the Joes a new asset in the field as well as a new machine built for sass as he verbally spars with Rock n’ Roll as the dust settles on the opening set piece.
Though Sitterson delivers a few great laugh lines in this debut issue, he doesn’t just abandon the pathos-filled developments from the fallout of Revolution. In fact, the tension between Rock n’ Roll and Grand Slam provides the issue some much-needed tension for the writer to explore in future installments. Packed with fun and grounded characterization, G.I. Joe #1 aims for much more than just empty military spectacle.
And speaking of spectacle, the art team of Giannis Milonogiannis and Lovern Kindzierski adapt well to Sitterson’s character centered debut issue. Providing equal attention to the gunplay and emotional interplay between the characters, Milonogiannis’ sketchy, heavily inked pencils captures the fast paced lives of the Joes well as well the quiet moments back at HQ as they assess and attempt to reconcile their new mandate with their lives as career soldiers. Kindzierski’s rough-hewn colors compliment the pencils and overall tone of the first issue, melding into a shifting but eye-catching set of pages that starts this new Joe series off on a visually satisfying note.
Armed with a powerful new status quo and backed by a sarcastic robot that can turn into a jet, G.I. Joe #1 is a fun humanitarian return to the spotlight for the Real American Heroes. Aubrey Sitterson leaves it all on the table with this debut, both in terms of plot and character, and it pays off big time once readers find themselves catching their breath after the break neck pace of this number one. Keeping pace with detailed pencils and rich colors are Giannis Milonogiannis and Lovern Kindzierski who give this title a vibrant life beyond the drab camo and gun metal greys that usually make up the visual language of this series. Standing as a solidly strange and entertaining new debut G.I. Joe #1 will have readers yelling “YO, JOE” as they march into their local shops.
All-Star Batman #5 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): There's that saying about going big or going home, but Scott Snyder, John Romita, Jr., Danny Miki, and Dean White do exactly both here in the conclusion to the first arc in this blockbuster of a series. With the change in venue, the surprisingly potent bursts of violence, and the screamingly high stakes of this book, there's something about this Batman story that makes it feel both comfortably classic but also unmistakably one-of-a-kind. Snyder was able to balance a hell of a lot of action with true human moments that help redefine Bruce Wayne's relationship with not only Two-Face, but Harvey Dent as well. Romita and Miki's art, meanwhile, reads like something from a neon grindhouse fantasy. It's gritty, but never dull and meshes perfectly with the over-the-top story Snyder had the chance to tell.
Supergirl: Being Super (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Putting the "girl" back in Supergirl, Mariko Tamaki (Skim) and artist Joelle Jones take Kara Danvers out of the her cape and costume and into track shorts and sneakers — for the time being, anyways. With characterization superceding action, this could polarize some fans expecting something out of the Supergirl TV show, but end up finding a more grounded take on Kara's teenage world. Sure, she does super things in here like lift a car like she's taking off her jacket, but that's not where the heart of the story lies. There's unlimited potential here for this four-part series that showcases the combined talent of Tamaki and Jones is a force to reckon with, but let's hope we don't lose focus on something more exciting in the meantime.