"JUstice League of America #3" variant
Credit: DC Comics

Happy Monday, 'Rama Readers! Best Shots is back to recount some of the biggest books of last week. We'll kick off this column with a look at Spider-Woman #17 from Kickin' Kat Calamia.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Spider-Woman #17
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Veronica Fish and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Kat Calamia
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Spider-Woman #17 marks the last issue of Dennis Hopeless’ three-year run with Jessica Drew, and with this issue Hopeless does a great job at giving a satisfying ending for longtime readers that’s both fun and heartwarming.

In the issue, Jessica throws a party to introduce her boyfriend Roger (a.k.a. Porcupine) to her superhero friends, but her friends quickly judge Roger for the porcupine suit he wears instead of the happiness he brings Jessica. Hopeless brings a lot of humor into the story as Jessica sips wine to escape the awkwardness of her own party, and Roger chases Gerry all over the apartment as Jessica’s baby discovers his newfound spider-abilities. Hopeless has some great comedic timing as he meshes these two stories together.

But Spider-Woman #17 is not only comedic - it’s also heartwarming. As the heroes at the party continue to judge Roger’s worth, the issue showcases why Jessica fell in love with Roger in the first place. Roger doesn’t care if he looks ridiculous, he just wants to make sure the people he loves are safe. Jessica is not the type of character who wears her feelings on her sleeve, but with Roger she wants to showcase how much she loves Roger to her friends. Jessica throwing this party shows how much Jessica has grown as a character since the beginning of Hopeless’ run. Roger and Jessica’s love shines throughout the issue, and this relationship is going to be one of the things I miss the most from the Spider-Woman series.

Veronica Fish has been a great collaborator since she joined the creative team. Fish’s pencils fit Javier Rodriguez’s original style for the book, but also allows her own style to shine. In Spider-Woman #17, Fish does a stupendous job with the characters’ facial expressions giving the needed emotional beats for the issue, and her pencils are also in tune with Hopeless’ comedic timing. Fish has a great balance for both the emotional and comedic elements of the issue.

The coloring by Rachelle Rosenberg adds a romantic feel to the book. Most of the scenes in this issue are on Jessica’s rooftop, and Rosenberg uses the colors of the sunset to set the mood for the issue. The sunset showcases the romance between Roger and Jessica, but also can symbolize the closing of Hopeless’ run on Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman #17 is a satisfying ending to Hopeless’ character-driven run. The issue celebrates the life Jessica built for herself during Hopeless’ run and shows how much Jessica has grown as a character.

Credit: Ivan Reis/Joe Prado/Marcelo Maiolo (DC Comics)

Justice League of America #3
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Diogenes Neves, Ruy Jose, Marc Deering and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Batman and his team of mortals say they want a revolution in Justice League of America #3. After being positioned into a political stalemate by Lord Havok and his Extremists, the JLA takes a pointedly people-centric approach to the problem by offering to put their support (and fists) behind the Kravia loyalist militia led by the passionate Bogna. Steve Orlando has set a great foundation for this series in the lead-up, but Issue #3 finds him making good on his promise to make this a different, more humanist Justice League simply by writing them like volunteer rescue relief instead of an invading force of superheroic jingoism.

Demon Knights and Justice League: Rise and Fall artist Diogenes Neves also plays up Orlando’s character focus by providing pages of a street-level political uprising that just happens to have superheroes fighting through the streets along with the people. Given a keen edge and definition by the inks of Roy Jose and Marc Deering and a earthy color scheme by Hi-Fi, Neves askews the usual “tights and fights” way of visual storytelling and lets the characters and their emotional states take center stage, marking a welcome visual shift that is right at home with this team of flesh-and-bone misfits. With sleekly evocative artwork and a script that zigs when reader’s will expect it to zag Justice League of America #3 keeps the fledgling team fighting for the right reasons.

A high-stakes game of Risk! is being played, and it's high time the JLA started making a push for territory. Though prevented from taking on Havok and his horde head on thanks to his Lethal Weapon 2-like diplomatic immunity as Kravia’s heir, Vixen has other plans; ones that involve them going from “reactionaries” to “activists.” Steve Orlando has already done the work of giving this team a dynamic, and an entertaining one at that. But this third issue makes good on his mission statement that this League would be a different, more socially aware League and this story is one hell of a proving of that thesis.

Instead of just having the team burst through Havok’s gates and have it out, Orlando puts the heroes at the whim of a local leader in order to foster goodwill and in order to avoid looking like Bat-booted thugs, marching through foreign streets to “save” people. Not only is it a fantastic contrast between the violent '90s “heroism” of the Extremists, but also a welcome downshift from the frankly political problematic policies the League has employed in the past. Batman wanted this to be a team for the people, and Steve Orlando is delivering on that promise in a compelling way.

Justice League of America #3 also boasts an art team that makes the most of their time on the rotating roster of pencilers, inkers, and colorists. While the lack of a consistent look for the title is less than ideal, Diogenes Neves, thankfully, has leveled up a few times since his Rise and Fall days, and his work here looks like the DC version of Oliver Copiel, complete with packed background details, expressive natural looking character models, and cinematic panel construction. Neves' work is also fine-tuned thanks to the precise inks of Ruy Jose and Marc Deering and heavy blankets of color and shadow Hi-Fi throws onto the proceedings. Jose, Deering, and Hi-Fi accentuate Neves’ emotionality and even provided a tighter punchline for one of the title’s funniest Lobo moments to date, thanks to the moody lighting and eye-catching line work. Though Justice League of America doesn’t have a “look” yet per se, Diogenes Neves, Ruy Jose, Marc Deering, and Hi-Fi provide visuals that, to me, will be the measuring stick for the title going forward.

It isn’t often you see superheroes as agents of righteous political action. It is rarer still to see that happen with an actual good and resonant story. But, thankfully Justice League of America #3 does just that and even puts the heroes in an even more interesting story position for next month. Steve Orlando, Ruy Jose, Marc Deering, Diogenes Neves and Hi-Fi have put the “justice” in “social justice” and made it look and read oh so cool along the way. The League may be losing ground to Havok now, but Justice League of America #3 puts them on the map in a big way.

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