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 Kinetic Kat Calamia, who takes a look at Spider-Gwen…
Spider-Gwen #22 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Spider-Gwen continues to be a slow burn with this new installment of the series. This issue opens up with George Stacy being targeted, while the rest of the issue deals with Wolverine’s hunt for Harry Osborn. The strongest moments in the issue are between Shadowcat and Spider-Gwen where the two characters come to an understanding after listening to each other’s points of view. There is a bit of repetitive exposition with Wolverine’s history, but it was nice to see Jason Latour show Shadowcat’s side of the story and explain why she’s so loyal to Wolverine. The rest of the issue is a bit predictable, but there is some nice added humor between Reed and Gwen which helps liven up the narrative. Robbi Rodriguez on pencils does a great job at switching from past to present as Shadowcat explains her narrative to Gwen and keeps the story action packed between Harry and Wolverine, but sadly the artwork becomes jarring when Jorge Coelho takes over towards the end of the issue. Coelho is less stylistic than Rodriguez and the change was noticeable, especially since the last two pages switched back to Rodriguez’s pencils. Spider-Gwen #22 has some interesting character moments, but the plot progression still seems stagnant.
Crosswind #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The first issue of Crosswind played as a set-up for the series, but Issue #2 gets the reader into the nitty gritty of hitman Cason Bennett and housewife Juniper Blue switching bodies. Juniper, trapped in Cason’s body, faces a crime scene that she must clean up before the feds find her, while Cason must prepare dinner in Juniper’s body for Juniper’s abusive husband and his boss. It’s interesting to see both characters naturally playing these roles even though their lives couldn’t be more different, but they use their strengths and past experiences to adjust to their new lives as each other. Gail Simone also adds a mysterious element of a man knowing about the body switch who also has Cason and Juniper’s fate in his hands. This element makes Crosswind far from your average “Freaky Friday” type storyline, and will be sure to leave readers wanting more. The artwork by Cat Staggs makes every page feel like a masterpiece with her painting like art style. Staggs does a great job at showcasing the different personalities of Juniper and Cason in each other’s bodies — doing this through their facial expressions and posture. Crosswind #2 captures Juniper and Cason’s personalities perfectly as they both deal with each other’s very different lifestyles. Gail Simone is already allowing them to grow as characters and we are only on the second issue of the series.
WWE #7 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by C.K. Stewart; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The Lunatic Fringe and the Legit Boss are in legitimate trouble in Wednesday’s installment of WWE #7, finding themselves deep in the heart of Wyatt Country and face-to-face with a backwoods cult whose strangeness puts the Ambrose Asylum to shame. Writer Dennis Hopeless had clearly been itching to write the Wyatt family patriarch Bray, and Hopeless leans into Wyatt’s supernatural, prophetic pomposity with aplomb. Artist Serg Acuna perfectly captures Bray Wyatt’s slightly manic intensity with wide, penetrating eyes and eerie, toothy grins.This arc with Dean Ambrose and Sasha Banks has gotten to the heart of what makes this series work so well: Hopeless and Acuna aren’t afraid to lean into the weirdness of pro-wrestling, perfectly balanced on a tightrope between too serious and cartoonishly unreal. Colorist Doug Garbark finally gets a chance to shine in this issue as well - the final page, with headlights glowing like fireflies under the bright light of a full moon, is impeccably done. Andrew Stott and Andy Belanger are back with a two page short about Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his reptilian companion Damien, and Serge LaPointe does a stellar job illustrating the short tale; a panel featuring Roberts hitting his signature DDT on the first page is so impeccably and gracefully drawn it’ll continually draw your eye back to it. WWE #7 is consistently a well-executed and fun read, and BOOM has done an excellent job curating tales featuring wrestlers throughout history to satisfy readers’ urges for something outside the ongoing saga of the Shield.
Your Pal Archie #1 (Published by Archie Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Archie Comics launches a new book that takes homage to the original Archie Digest tone in a fun first issue that proves that there is still room for classic Archie in the company’s lineup. The issue’s first story focuses on Jughead desperately wanting his driver’s license because his friends are going away on vacation, and he won’t have anyone to drive him to Pop’s. This is a fun story that highlights Archie and Jughead’s friendship while also showing the extra mile Jughead will go for his love of hamburgers (including some great physical comedy). The second story was a bit weaker than the first with Archie trying to write an opera for Veronica to show her that he’s sophisticated, but this story does pick up in the end when Ty Templeton leaves the audience on a nice cliffhanger that changes the status quo for Archie, bringing some serialized storytelling tricks to Riverdale’s usual slice-of-life routine. Dan Parent’s artwork is one of the biggest highlights of Your Pal Archie. Parent gives fans the classic reader digest look with a modern twist. For example, Jughead’s goatee and Archie’s new hair style are nice little changes to modernize these classic characters. Your Pal Archie #1 is a solid issue for fans who miss classic Archie storytelling, but still want a sprinkle of modern flare.
Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology (Published by Power & Magic Press; Review by C.K. Stewart; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Power & Magic is a beautiful anthology from cover to credits, leading with a beautiful illustration by Ashe Samuels that perfectly sets the tone for a sometimes charming, sometimes haunting collection of comics about queer witches of color. Edited by Joamette Gil, the first volume of Power & Magic features tales by 17 women and non-binary creators of color. Gil is an excellent editor with a strong eye for the anthology theme - each tale seems like a perfect fit, even with works as varied as Coco Candelario’s adorable Her Gift to Maria Llorens and Devaki Neogi’s utterly heartbreaking Te Perdi. The creators Gil has brought together are all exceptionally talented, but fydbac’s Def Together is a standout tale. Her character designs are stunning, and the way she portrays sign language is delightful to see in a time when mainstream comics often gloss over thoughtful portrayals of disability. Songbird For A Vulture is another hauntingly beautiful entry by Naomi Franquiz, an eerie fairy tale with a heartwarming and hopeful ending. There’s a tale for everyone in Power & Magic, whether you’re looking for romance or horror or tales of family (blood or otherwise).