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 Methodical Matthew Sibley, as he takes a look at Unworthy Thor...
Unworthy Thor #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Jason Aaron’s work on various Thor books has always been based around the idea of a grand saga spanning numerous eras and this concept has only gained momentum as time has gone one. God of Thunder dealt with three different eras, but this penultimate issue of Unworthy Thor goes one worth and the various artists enlisted by Aaron depict them in a way that feels cohesive, but avoids feeling samey. As the issue builds to Odinson’s realization about what he needs to do next, the issue can’t help but feel like an introspective montage of sorts that reinforces why he reaches the decision that he does. By building in this way it means that the eras don’t all receive the same amount of attention - Frazer Irving only has a couple pages where he showcases Young Thor’s attempt to wield Mjolnir - but this means that the issue never gets bogged down in one particular time period. Coming to the issue’s conclusion, the emotional response felt is only possible because of Aaron’s commitment to producing a saga as sweeping as this.
Justice League/Power Rangers #2 (Published by DC Comics and BOOM! Studios; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the Justice League fought the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers? Well, Tom Taylor brings this fantastical scenario to life as the Justice League and Power Rangers question each other’s motives, giving Taylor the perfect opportunity to analyze the teams’ different personalities. Both of the teams have moments of culture shock. The Justice League are taken aback when they see robots in the shape of dinosaurs, and the Power Rangers are trying to wrap their heads around the power sets of the Justice League members. Taylor brings a real opportunity to look at the different quirks that make these characters popular, but also a little weird at first glance. The cartoonish art style from Stephen Byrne brings a fitting Saturday morning cartoon tone to the book. Although the coloring feels a shade darker compared to the bright adventure Taylor presents in his writing. Justice League/Power Rangers #2 is a bit light on plot, but provides a hightail adventure one would expect when bringing these two teams together.
Namesake #4 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by C.K. Stewart; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Steve Orlando and Jakub Rebelka’s high concept adventure comes to a bloody end in this week’s Namesake #4, the final issue in a riveting miniseries about what family means and what we’ll do to defend it. Rebelka’s stunning art remains a highlight of the book, the fluorescent pinks and blues capturing the ethereal otherness of Ektae as the earthier yellow of Jordan’s jacket grounds him as a stranger in this strange land, and Thomas Mauer’s lettering gives Rebelka's heart-pounding action scenes a gruesome and impactful pop. Orlando has a unique ability to craft a tale as emotionally gripping as it is violent, culminating in a bloody final confrontation between Jordon and his father that feels desperate and dramatic, each verbal barb they trade as painful as the punches Bakolier lays into his estranged son. Namesake #4 lacks a sense of finality in a way that seems both intentional and strangely hopeful; as Jordan says, he had no plan beyond laying his fathers to rest, and the gorgeous final page captures the uncertainty of finding closure without a thought as to what comes next. Namesake #4 seems to suggest this isn’t good, or bad, just something new, and closes with a hopeful reminder that the families we make can be as valuable in working through this uncertainty as the families we’re born to.
Titans #8 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The first arc of Titans had such a heavy focus on Wally West, that it didn’t really feel like a team book all of the time, but if this issue is any indication, it appears that Dan Abnett will be able to provide a well-balanced dynamic moving forward. Dealing with Karen Beecher’s newfound powers and her attempt to find out why she has them, Abnett picks up on a thread from his own Titans Hunt and even with an additional two characters, the book still has chance to give each of the core six some downtime to talk in their new tower. This also sees the return of Brett Booth, who retains the same style he utilized in the first arc. Much like that arc, the heavy use of Dutch angles doesn’t work as best as it could. This approach is certainly better than sticking to a static grid that imposes rigidity on the art, the use of skewed panels feels like an attempt to imbue the book with a sense of momentum, but it comes across as artificially produced and without a clear sense of motion. What this means is that despite the well-written conversations bringing something the book had been sorely lacking, they unfortunately don’t look as good as they should.
Kingpin #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The name of the book may be Kingpin, but writer Matthew Rosenberg looks beyond this, instead choosing to focus on who Wilson Fisk is besides a crime boss. A very early way he does so is by withholding the character from the reader in the opening pages, instead showing us what others think about it. And when Ben Torres finally depicts him, he’s instantly imposing. While not as extreme as Bill Sienkiewicz’s version of the character in Daredevil: Love and War, the influence is there in the hulking brute which batters his goons for training and then contorts his face into an unsettling smile. With a book deal in the cards, he’s recruited reporter Susan Dewey to write the biography which sees her thrust into high society. Rosenberg’s choice to, again, withhold the criminal activity so commonly associated with Fisk feels appropriate because Fisk goes out of his way to do the same for Susan. This is also achieved through Fisk being such an overbearing presence in Torres’ art; even in medium shots, he seems to occupy more of the panel than any other character.
Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): It’s hard to judge a comic’s story when it is literally non-existent; such is the case in in Orlando and Reis’ JLA Rebirth #1. For the entirety of the first issue, Batman hops from city to city recruiting the members of his new, Outsiders-esque Justice League — and that’s it. The comic is a collection of scenes that might have been better suited appearing in the lead up issues that focused on some of the lesser-known Leaguers. This might play better in trade, but as a single issue it doesn't feel like a knockout. Ivan Reis, one of DC’s big hitters in the art department, isn’t enough to make this comic worth checking out. Although consistently good across the board in his work for DC, a few characters come off looking askew or slightly lumpy here. At the end of the day, Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 might be worth picking up later down the line.
All-New Wolverine #17 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): One of the central themes of the Wolverine saga has been about control — about the struggle between one's animal urges, compounded by the shadowy machinations of black ops experimentation. While Logan escaped his fate as a lab rat, his female clone, Laura, wasn't quite as fortunate — and it's this dive into her psyche that makes All-New Wolverine #17 stand out. Writer Tom Taylor digs into where Laura goes when the trigger scent is unleashed, and by playing that introspection off the tension of approaching S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (as well as Laura trying not to kill anyone under the influence), you get a nice mix of storytelling. That said, the artwork does feel like an acquired taste — Djibril Morisette-Phan's compositions don't seem to knock out Taylor's loftier dream sequences, making full-page spreads of Laura in all her incarnations fall flat. All in all, this is a book with ambitions, and even if it doesn't always work in execution, this is worth a look.
Superwoman #7 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): This debut arc of Superwoman has taken a while to reach its conclusion, and it delivers on the expectations prior issues have set up. This means that not only does it see Lana and others attempt to stop Ultrawoman, but it also provides more surprises. The latter of those isn’t given a lot of space within the book and unless you’ve been reading all of the Superfamily books could come out of nowhere, much like how the conclusion to Detective Comics’ first arc may make no sense if you’re unaware of the overarching Rebirth plot. While Jimenez didn’t do the art for the issue, his layouts giving way to dense paneling is recognizable. Once again this helps to accommodate the various characters involved and their threads in the story as well as avoid decompression. Lana’s inner monologue doesn’t feel as dense in this issue and helps to contribute to the idea that she’s become more comfortable with the mantle than she did in the wake of Lois Lane’s death. That character progression in addition to even more mysteries being established means that this arc concludes one of the strongest books of the Rebirth initiative in addition to indicating that the creative team are by no means taking their foot off the gas just yet.