Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week’s Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off with the latest look at All-New Guardians of the Galaxy…
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Between this issue and last week’s annual, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy is quickly becoming my favorite Marvel book, due in no small part because this series is finally channeling the charm of the hit movie franchise. Writer Gerry Duggan tells this beautiful, single-character story about Star-Lord, who is on a quest across space and physics to recover a song from his late mother. It’s a story that tugs on the heartstrings, but Duggan plays up Star-Lord’s impish nature as he talks his way out of being locked up by aliens (newsflash: nobody likes humans) or punches out Nova Corpsman Scott Adsit. But the real hook for this book is artist Chris Samnee, whose clean linework and pristine composition brings both a sense of warmth and a sense of grandeur to even small moments, like Quill turning the anti-gravity on as he listens to a song from his youth. If you have to pick up one Marvel book this week, make it this one.
Green Arrow #26 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In Green Arrow #26, the Emerald Archer and the Scarlet Speedster team up (somewhat begrudgingly at first) to investigate the Speed Force’s recent effects on nature. Overall, it’s a fun little story. Benjamin Percy pretty neatly wings the Speed Force plot into Ollie’s investigation of the Ninth Circle even if the connection isn’t totally obvious at first. Ollie and Barry’s rapport is palpable, recalling the playful barbs you might see Spidey and Johnny Storm trading. But there’s a lot of exposition here, and it tends to weigh things down even when there isn’t much going on with the plot. Stephen Byrne handles the linework and colors in this issue and it’s a fairly impressive outing for him. His model for the Flash seems a little bit off at times, but his Ollie is spot-on. His work strikes me as almost the middle ground of what Karl Kerschl and Helen Chen were doing on Gotham Academy and it’s a good fit for the wide open, natural setting of the story. Nate Piekos deserves a mention for some really understatedly excellent lettering as well - opting to not put a stroke on the word balloons lets them flow really well with the art.
Bloodshot's Day Off! #1 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It's a holy day for Tank Man and Viet Man of the Bloodshot Squad in Bloodshot's Day Off! #1, a somber and low-key one-shot with a sentimental heart. After wracking up over forty thousand hours of active duty between them, the two nanite-infused soldiers are given a much-needed day of rest in the Big Apple. Separately, the two soldiers visit places of worship and their parents' final resting places. Uncharacteristically for Bloodshot, you'll find no action here. Writer Eliot Rahal is more concerned with quiet moments of reflection than guts spilling, which makes this character-led one-shot a necessary breather in between chaos. Artist Khari Evans lets down Rahak's thoughtful script, however, with a uniformly thick line that barely seems to differentiate clothing from skin. This is a visually confusing and ugly book as far as figures go, even if Evans' backgrounds are well-rendered. One for the Bloodshot aficionado.
Gumby #1 (Published by Papercutz; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The biggest claymation star of our era gets a charming and surprisingly witty comic debut in Gumby #1 from Papercutz. Presented as a three story anthology, writers Jeff Whitman, Kyle Baker (who also provides art for his story) and Ray Fawkes dive deeply into Gumby’s canon and supporting cast to deliver wholesome, yet cheeky stories inspired by the pilot episode of his first television show, the world of non-clay-related modeling, and the Summer season. Artist Jolyon Yates along with colorists Laurie E. Smith and Matt Herms, and the legendary Baker all lean into the simplistic visual style of the old show, but, like the scripts, inject a certain cheekiness to the artwork, highlighting Gumby and Pokey’s reactions and constantly shifting reality as they hop into books and around their toy shop home. Gumby #1 is funny, well-rendered, and the right kind of weird and sure to call back memories of a simpler Saturday morning kind of fun.
Transformers: Till All Are One #11 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The Cybertronian intrigue continues in the tensely dense Transformers: Till All Are One #11. Starscream’s problems are piling up, and the new Supreme Leaders of Cybertron might not be able to keep it - and his mind - together for long. Writer Mairghead Scott is spinning a lot of plates, what with the political machinations not to mention all the Titan and Combiner related side plots. That said, she keeps it all moving admirably, continually shift focus from series leads Starscream and Windblade in a sort of “House of Cards on steroids” kind of storytelling. The scenes themselves are very dense and contain a boatload of information, but Scott presents them with a real tension and heaviness, selling the political drama as well as the deep lore. Artists Sara Pitre-Durdcher and Joana Lafuente also help with the selling by focusing on the emotions of the character, in particular Starscream, who has gone from lackey to basically the Tyrion Lannister of the Transformers. The pair hone in on his mercurial emotional state, particularly in an affecting scene of him butting heads with Bumblebee. Armed with a sharp script and genuinely unexpected emotions, Transformers: Till All Are One #11 is truly more than meets the eye.
Snotgirl #6 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): After a long hiatus, Snotgirl returns with an issue that gives a stronger view at Cutegirl, one of Snotgirl’s “friends” who is also a social media mogul. The biggest appeal of Snotgirl is witnessing the deep thoughts of a superficial person. In this issue, we learn that Snotgirl isn’t the only person who is hiding their flaws. Cutegirl is over 30 years old, and nurses a fraught relationship with her settled-down twin sister. Even though it was nice to see more from Snotgirl’s supporting cast, sadly the mystery behind Coolgirl isn’t developed much in this issue. But there is an interesting dream sequence between Coolgirl and Snotgirl where they kiss and Coolgirl has blood covering her lips – does this mean Snotgirl has romantic feelings for Coolgirl or is this symbolic for something else? Leslie Hung’s pencils and Rachel Cohen’s colors perfectly establish this superficial world Bryan Lee O’Malley paints with his script. The book is extremely bright and has an anime quality to the art style adding to the book’s “cutesy” factor. Snotgirl #6 helps build the series’ supporting cast, but the mystery behind the most interesting character, Coolgirl, is still a slow burn.
Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): They say every villain is the hero of their own story — but what happens when that story is Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again? Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dalibor Talajic reunite as the Merc With a Mouth slaughters superheroes, but whereas their previous series had a hard metatextual bent as Deadpool rebelled against the sadism of his comic book makers, this arc feels a little too simple, as Wade is simply mind-controlled into thinking he’s killing superheroes. Talajic works to shift things up between the cartoony visions in Wade’s head versus the darker and heavier real world, but there’s so much going on with his massive crowd scenes that it’s hard for many of these sequences to come into focus. Bunn has a few slick moments here — particularly the demigods getting taken out by a weapon from antiquity — but not only does he fall prey to an unfocused story, but even the bar he previously set in his last series. Unless you’re a Deadpool megafan, this sequel is a bloody but far from essential read.
Ash vs. the Army of Darkness #1 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): School's in session for Ash Williams in Ash vs the Army of Darkness #1, a lighthearted and animated introductory issue that applies The Real Ghostbusters approach to The Evil Dead thanks to artist Mauro Vargas' lanky cartoon stylings. The Deadite hunt brings Ash to an average American high school, where a giant undead frog heralds the titular Army of Darkness. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers distill the essence of Bruce Campbell into their snappy script, while also managing one genuinely eerie moment (As the “ribbit” of Science Lab frogs deforms into “rippout yourr soulllll!”). Sims and Bowers populate their script with high school archetypes, all appropriately horrified at the violence that Ash brings with him, which also compliments the Saturday Morning Cartoon memories that Vargas' long and angular figures evoke. A fresh new look for a gory old hound.
G.I. Joe #7 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The problems keep piling up for the Joes in G.I. Joe #7. As Roadblock and his squad attempt to quell the savage beast inside of Rock N’ Roll and take out the source of the magic-infused monsters they’ve been fighting, Scarlett is facing a different problem; one of international politics. Aubrey Sitterson has done a fine job of balancing the action of the field teams and the intrigue of Scarlett’s new leadership position. Though I would have liked the scene of Baroness being discovered as a prisoner to carry a bit more weight, something tells me we will be seeing her again very soon. And speaking of balance, artist Giannis Milonogiannis and colorist Lovern Kindzierski continue to walk the line between action and emotion thanks to their keen focus on character as well as coloring panels in the way that best highlights the action or exposition; Doc Jr.’s big moment this month is a prime example of the pair’s artistic duality. Standing as one of IDW’s most consistently entertaining titles, G.I. Joe #7 keeps the team in the win column while keeping things good and complicated for the Joes and their audience.
Motor Girl #7 (Published by Abstract Studios; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Motor Girl #7 continues to tell an intense psychological story as Terry Moore unravels the effects of Sam’s time in war while also building an extraterrestrial mystery. Moore gives the reader powerful emotional beats digging deeper into Sam’s mental health through an interesting flashback in Iraq after the explosion where an innocent boy was left to die. Sam keeps repeating the same questions — “Where am I?” and “What happened?” — giving an interesting peek at Sam’s mental cognition at the time. When the comic isn’t focusing on Sam it shifts to the alien story, but sadly this storyline doesn’t deliver as strongly as Sam’s section because the alien narrative feels too detached to the main story in this issue. Terry Moore on both writing and art duties allows for a very fluid narrative. Moore matches his emotional writing beats with strong emotionally driven visuals. A lot of the character’s feelings are spoken through their eyes. This was especially evident in Sam’s last scene as she makes a shocking realization while going into the CT scanner. Motor Girl #7 when focusing on Sam is a powerfully important psychological story, but the issue loses momentum when it switches to the alien narrative.