Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has your back, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let's kick off today's column with Masticating Matthew Sibley, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Hawkeye...
Hawkeye #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Set at night, Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye becomes shrouded in shadow as Kate digs further into a harassment case - and of course it's not as simple as it first appeared. The strengths of the first issue recur here, Kate’s voice remains strong and there are some plot aspects which have a parallel in Veronica Mars. The one that stood out the most in the debut was the use of the reticule to indicate Kate’s observations of her surroundings and here it’s become more refined, being used within standard panel structures in addition to establishing shots for new scenes. Which means that it isn’t just meant to be something flashy to grab attention, the integration of the stylistic element within conversations only goes to show how attentive Kate Bishop is of the situations at hand. Combined with the necessary detail of Leonardo Romero’s work, how Jordie Bellaire switches up her previous colour set to match the setting and an impressive action sequence and you’ve got the book which continues to be the strongest of the new Marvel Now launches.
Justice League of America: Atom Rebirth #1 (Published by DCComics; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The first of four one-shots introducing members of the upcoming Justice League of America title, Atom Rebirth is a solid and engrossing reintroduction to Rebirth’s Ryan Choi. In Choi, Orlando captures the spirit of what’s made other breakout young heroes of recent years so endearing; Ryan, talented but awkward and unsure as he ventures from Hong Kong to New England for college, is a relatable and familiar figure to readers of all ages. His relationship with advisor turned friend turned superhero mentor Ray Palmer is well-developed for such a brief story and breathes life into Ryan as a well-developed character with a rich life of his own who’s fully prepared to take on the mantle of The Atom on his own in February. Artist Andy MacDonald and colorist John Rauch do a stellar job capturing the full strange spectrum of Ryan’s life with engaging and expressive faces and body language in his interactions with classmates and friends, and tongue-in-cheek action sequences with Palmer that buoy the book’s light and hopeful tone. Atom Rebirth is a strong reintroduction to the Ryan Choi of Rebirth, and a very promising beginning for Orlando’s Justice League of America.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #17 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Much like Sam Wilson has found himself the target of pundits in the Marvel Universe, the new Falcon, Joaquin Torres now finds himself under fire over his citizenship status. Nick Spencer provides a conscious approach to the situation. Instead of dealing with a character who made the decision to cross the border, Joaquin was a child and thus didn’t have any control over the situation. It’s a level of nuance which this topic isn’t normally given, so it’s a shame when another portion of the issue reduces some topics to cheap gags. What prevents this issue being a complete mess is the art from Paul Renaud who also assisted John Rauch on colors. They do some great work with shadow resulting in strong iconography for Sam Wilson, but this isn’t enough to help the sour taste of the book’s middle subside.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #3.1 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The third year of The Eleventh Doctor kicks off with a wake and new adventures wrapped in a sketchy, emotional package. Writer Rob Williams opens the issue with a touching tribute to the fallen David Bowie (going by his birth surname of Jones for this issue), engaging in some nice banter between the two friends before switching gears and introducing the pair to their new enemy on the surface of a heavily forested planet. Artist I.N.J. Culbard and colorist Triona Farrell continue the sharply angled character models and stylish backgrounds that set this title apart from the rest of the Who line, tied together with the darkly rich colors of Farrell. Armed with plenty of style and fast-paced action, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #3.1 starts the Doctor and Alice’s 2017 off on a high note.
Faith #7 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Faith trades charm for the horror of anxiety in its seventh installment. Haunted by visions of those lost during her hero career, Faith Herbert fears that she is losing her mind and her edge as a hero. While Jody Houser’s trademark pop culture-infused voice is still alive and well here, her switching from high-flying superhero action to intimate ghostly horror is a nice narrative coup for the title and gives Faith a new layer beyond bubbly fandom nerd. Artists Joe Eisma and Marguerite Sauvage and colorist Andrew Dalhouse also impress with this seventh issue as Eisma brings some of that Morning Glories creepiness to Faith drenched in the vibrant colors of Dalhouse and peppered with more rounded fantasies from Sauvage. Faith Herbert may be one of Valiant’s most likable characters, but Faith #7 shows that even the happiest people have demons and sometimes, they aren’t just in their head.
U.S. Avengers #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): For a team book, writer Al Ewing never actually brings his U.S. Avengers together - literally or figuratively. Anchored by reality TV-style confessional utilized in the story to introduce the characters, Ewing's Avengers never seem to transcend their B-team status with choppy action and bland characterization. The saving grace here is the art team of Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco. Medina has a perfect grasp on the stiff, sharp lines of the military machine with the often cartoonish acting of the characters. Inker Jaun Vlasco only accentuates these details with a crisp, detailed execution of Medina’s work. Despite the strength of the artist, U.S. Avengers doesn’t fly very high on its first mission.
Giant Days #22 (Published by Boom! Studios; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Giant Days has always been a ridiculously funny book, but it’s also been capable of these heartfelt emotional beats. This is one of those issues that has a lasting emotional impact. Centered around Daisy’s feelings for her friend Ingrid, John Allison’s script nails the anxiety that bubbles to the surface. He’s assisted as usual by Max Sarin, Liz Fleming and Whitney Cogar on art, who make Daisy’s inner turmoil a factor which is visually clear as well, a testament to how strong they are in capturing the minutiae of expressions. This in combination with subplots for both Daisy and Esther being paid off by the end of the issue, again like usual, which also goes to show how well constructed this book is, in how it can deal with an A-plot, but also B- and C-plots in addition to seeding plot points that will arise later.
Star Trek: Boldly Go #4 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Kirk and company’s first encounter with the Borg comes to a thrilling conclusion in Star Trek: Boldly Go #4. After chasing the Borg sphere into Romulan territory to rescue Spock and the rest of his missing crew, Kirk must form another uneasy alliance with the Romulan Empire in order to save his friends and protect the Federation as a whole. Writer Mike Johnson continues to handle both the returning characters and new characters with great care as well as exploring the more political side of Federation missions and the fallout of the results. Artist and colorist Tony Shasteen also keeps the characters visually on par with their filmic counterparts as well as sending this arc off with a massive ship to ship battle with the combined might of the Romulan Empire and the Endeavor facing off against the massive sphere. Though Kirk’s friends may be scattered across Starfleet, Star Trek: Boldly Go #4 shows that the characters and stories are still in good hands with IDW.
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): So we’re now halfway through DC’s big event, but it’s only by the end of the issue does it feel like we’ve gotten past the necessary set-up. Even then the revelations of the issue which establish where this chain of events is heading next don’t feel that shocking which is quite honestly disappointing. The series still has an exposition problem, noticeable in the opening scene and while it’s not as egregious in other scenes as it’s been in previous issues, it slows the book down when it should be ramping up like the best events do. There’s a moment between Superman and Killer Frost which is strong enough to overcome this problem and artist Jesus Merino shows a strength in blocking a scene, but doesn’t get a chance to show off his skills in a meaningful way beyond typical splash pages. Maybe the second half of this event will drastically change the game and there’ll be surprises abound, but right now it feels a lot like Night of the Monster Men did when we kept hoping there was more to it, only to find out this is all it is.
Optimus Prime #2 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Prime’s mission gets a lot more complicated in Optimus Prime #2. While the flashbacks of Prime’s time as a police officer butting up against corruption and strife on Cybertron gives this solo title a nice bit of genre storytelling, writer John Barber’s main story with Prime contending the Earth relations and newly landed citizens from Junkion comes across too jumbled and wordy to truly connect. To make matters worse, Kei Zama’s pencils, while absolutely nailing the designs of the bots, are too densely packed to keep clear, making each page look too cramped to properly present the story. Though Josh Burncham’s colors offer a nice transition between the the past and present, Optimus Prime #2 suffers from trying to do too much in too little time.