Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with the latest installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off with Kooky Kat Calamia, who takes a look at Batgirl…
Batgirl #14 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In this new arc “Summer of Lies,” Nightwing and Batgirl team up as they realize their past is coming back to haunt them. Writer Hope Larson does a good job at balancing Barbara and Dick’s past story with their present - the flashbacks and budding romance being the most enjoyable aspect of the issue - as she also starts to reveal the villain’s connection to Barbara. It should be interesting to see how this unravels, since the story doesn’t touch upon the villain’s motives in either setting. The pencils by Chris Wildgoose are at their strongest when focusing on the intimate moments between Dick and Barbara, but on the negative side, his character proportions do feel a bit lanky at times his and facial expressions could be more diverse. Batgirl #14 is a nice issue for Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson fans. It develops a solid plot that will hopefully dig up some interesting secrets from their past as the arc continues.
Generations: The Mighty Thor & The Unworthy Thor #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Generations has been at its strongest when focusing on the relationship between mentor and mentee, but sadly Generations: The Mighty Thor & The Unworthy Thor #1 misses the mark with this concept. The story focuses on a time before Odinson was worthy of the hammer, which is an interesting parallel to his current Unworthy Thor story arc, but the issue doesn’t give enough focus on the relationship between him and his eventual successor Jane Foster – the actual point of the Generations one-shot. Perhaps even more frustrating for this one-shot is that even when Jane and Odinson were in the story, they were fighting on different corners of the battlefield, but thankfully the pencils by Mahmud Asrar are solid, giving some clean action sequences to drive the plot. Generations: The Mighty Thor & The Unworthy Thor #1 lays the ground work for future storylines including Marvel Legacy #1, but misses the heart previous Generations issues delivered on.
Archie #23 (Published by Archie Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Archie #23 is a touching issue celebrating the heart of Riverdale - Betty Cooper. The story centers around the town coming together to help Betty with her volunteer work as she continues to recover after her jaw-dropping accident at Reggie and Archie’s drag race. Archie feels guilty about the accident, and wants to help the town celebrate Betty, but every single time he tries he messes something up, adding for a nice dose of comedy and emotion for this well-balanced issue. The story showcases how much Archie truly cares for Betty, leading to a touching ending where the town helps Archie celebrate her, even after his many comedic mistakes. The pencils by Audrey Mok are simplistic, but still nails the comedic and emotional beats from Mark Waid’s script. Archie #23 focuses on Betty’s trauma from an outsiders’ perspective, which should make Betty’s narrative even stronger when the story hopefully shifts to her point of view.
Edge of Venomverse #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Artist James Stokoe elevates an otherwise by-the-numbers actioner in Edge of Venomverse #5, which gives the Venom symbiotic to the Regenerating Degenerate himself, Deadpool. In many ways, Stokoe riffs on his previous work on the Aliens comics, with creepy, worm-infested scientists being the perfect meatbags for Wade Wilson to tear through. Yet writer Clay McLoed Chapman’s story doesn’t actually make a ton of sense, even by Deadpool standards, with Wade just deciding to punch a container with the Venom symbiote as he’s getting overwhelmed. Granted, this story also gets some awesomely gross moments as well, such as a Venomized Deadpool forcibly vomiting out all the parasitic worms who are determined to take over his body. But ultimately, this book is Stokoe’s show, especially a panel where Deadpool gives us a big Venomy grin - if you like his work, this is worth checking out, even if the script he’s given isn’t the most memorable.
Detective Comics #963 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Stephanie Brown returns to the pages of Detective Comics, but her choice of company leaves a lot to be desired. Teaming up with Anarky, the Spoiler’s motives grow even weaker as her story continues to be driven by other people: first Tim Drake, then Batman, and now someone she barely knows - Anarky. And he is not exactly the easiest character to follow, as Anarky explains his ultimate plan for Gotham with some extremely exposition-heavy dialogue. Yet there are still some sparks in this story, such as the flashback with Tim and Stephanie, because Tynion and Sebela allow Stephanie’s personality to shine as she eats fast food and takes pictures with her boyfriend. The pencils by Carmen Carnero are the strongest aspect of this book as they feel particularly consistent, and does a solid job at portraying the issue’s many talking head moments. Detective Comics #963 doesn’t have a lot of plot progression, and sadly weighs Stephanie’s character down even further as she continues toward her downward spiral.
Moonstruck #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle’s diabetically cute Moonstruck continues with its sophomore outing, and while its sweetness might be too much for some, there’s still plenty of charm for its magical world of characters. There’s a lot you can relate to with sensitive werewolf Julie as she prepares for her big date with Selena, as she enlists her centaur friend Chet to accompany them to a magic show. Yet while the big twist of the issue is certainly electrifying, there feels like there’s something missing from this book - maybe it feels like fan service to have this date go so extraordinarily well, as every potential bump in the road gets smoothed over one panel later. Still, Beagle’s artwork is cartoony and expressive, and it’s hard to get too down on a book where the characters look as enthusiastic to be there as these do. Additionally, the character of Chet steals the show, as he feels immediately more three-dimensional and interesting than either of the romantic leads. There’s plenty of potential in the world of Moonstruck, even if its ultra-saccharine tone might be too much for even the sweetest of sweet teeth.