Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with your weekly dose of Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let's kick off this week's column with Melodious Matthew Sibley, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Batman...
Batman #15 (Published by DCComics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have found their lives entwined since that one time they both… actually when did they first encounter each other? This is the question posited in the opening pages. Mitch Gerards illustrates how adept he is in mixing up his style, homaging both the Golden Age and David Mazzuchelli’s work, all the while switching from panelled grids which captures the subtle emotions of the scene to the grand and sweeping pages that make the book soar. King’s script allows the book to transcend the height reached by Gerard’s art alone, moving through pillow talk, heart-pumping pages of adrenaline and true genius when the final pieces of the puzzle that is King’s Catwoman click into place, it manages to land the necessary beats in an understated way - they register and stick with you without needing repeated reinforcement. Add in some stylistic flourishes like camera pans and some splendid color work by, and you’ve got a tale which this relationship has persisted in various forms through the ages.
Mighty Captain Marvel #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): If you think someone acting out of character is enough to hamper a book, imagine what it’s like when you’re a hero watching a TV production based on your life. That’s the dilemma Carol Danvers finds herself here and she’s not too happy about her on-screen depiction. While the rest of the issue may bring Kree hostages, Carol’s used to missions like that. As are we. This is still primarily a superhero title, but this unique spin from Margaret Stohl, of a hero who’s a pop culture icon and isn’t wholly okay with that, makes the book more fascinating than something which is solely a superhero comic and continues with the introspective nature of the previous issue. Ramon Rosanas takes the precise posture and facial expressions he refined on Astonishing Ant-Man and uses them here to great effect, but unfortunately doesn’t land the big splash page which lacks a sense of momentum. Overall, this is a minor issue with the book and it continues to be another "Marvel Now" book which takes the superhero stuff in its stride and then go one step further.
The Few #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In the vein of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Few is a fast-paced thrills ride that keeps dialogue brief and the action heavy, but unlike Fury Road doesn’t have a story which instantly grabs hold and refuses to let you go, even in this oversized issue. In short: there’s a baby to protect, people in pursuit and a world in disarray. Sean Lewis’ decision to use minimal exposition is successful in some regards, the stakes are made clear and the story keeps moving at a brisk pace, but this causes it to fail in others; there isn’t a lot of time to spend with the characters or for them to spend time with each other. Hayden Sherman’s minimalistic art whips up a winter wasteland dystopia and there’s sure to be secrets that the snow is currently covering, but as it stands the world of The Few and the characters which inhabit it exist, but aren’t defined beyond basic characteristics.
U.S. Avengers #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): While not as explosive, the second issue of U.S. Avengers is still delightfully bombastic. Danielle Cage, the Captain America of 20XX has come in pursuit of the Golden Skull and needs the help of Roberto Da Costa’s team. The Golden Skull is more exuberant than the Red Skull and that’s the point. One of Ewing’s biggest strengths is being able to adopt different tones, and here it’s like nothing he’s done before, without going completely over-the-top. Even in the biggest moments, it feels under control, no doubt also a result of Paco Medina’s linework. From a helicarrier over Washington D.C to a pile of slain superheroes, everything has a lavish sheen to it, defined by Juan Vlasco’s inks and Jesus Aburtov’s colors which bring texture to the art without making it explosive for the sake of doing so. With more hints to Ewing’s future plans, we’re en route to whatever destination that may be and as evidenced by these first two issues, this is clearly the rollercoaster portion of the ride.
Justice League of America: The Ray - Rebirth #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Steve Orlando and Stephen Byrne’s The Ray - Rebirth #1 is a tightly-crafted introduction to the lesser known Leaguer, giving a solid foundation for him to shine bright in Orlando's upcoming team book. Orlando’s retelling of Ray Terrill’s origin falls in line with most younger, modernized, comic characters (including that Macklemore hair cut) but his characterization of Ray feels genuine. The strife that the budding hero experiences in his early years feel grounded yet painful and set an excellent groundwork for the character. Stephen Byrne’s artwork is crisp on the page and his solid interpretations of the people in Ray’s world stay with the reader. Byrne is also excellent here in capturing the emotion of the protagonist as he comes into his own over a series of major life events.
Backstagers #6 (Published by BOOM! Box; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating 9 out of 10): Jory’s backstage adventures take a turn for the grim in this week’s Backstagers #6. The boys of St. Genesius and girls of the Penitent Angels find themselves trapped backstage with their memories wiped by the theater’s magic, with only Jory left to try to rally the troops and find their way back home. James Tynion IV and Rian Sygh have done a stellar job building up the mystery and dread of the theater catacombs and their occupants over the last five issues, culminating here with Sasha’s utterly spooky, imaginary friend Polaroid throwing down some frightening (if sassy) threats for the last two issues of the series. Sygh, colorist Walter Baiamonte, and letterer Jim Campbell make an incredible team, with Polaroid’s unsettling design and dark colors taking the book from a surreal if light-hearted Alice in Wonderland tale to something closer Return to Oz. Tynion IV’s narrative pacing continues to impress, and after this week’s startling cliffhanger, Backstagers seems headed for an exciting and satisfying ending to one of 2016's standout miniseries.