Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for this week’s installment of your Rapid-Fire Reviews! Best Shots has you covered — let’s kick off this week’s column with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, as we take a look at Avengers…
Avengers #11 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): After all the sound and fury of Secret Empire, it’s nice to see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes decompress, and Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo provide a really wonderful, character-driven interlude in this week’s issue of Avengers. This issue has the core team split into pairs in the wake of Parker Industries’ dissolution, featuring the Vision asking Hercules pointers about being immortal, Sam Wilson and Jane Foster discussing their futures as the leaders of the team, and Spider-Man and the Wasp getting over their mutual antipathy toward one another. Waid always seems to zero in on what makes these characters sympathetic, and even more impressively, Del Mundo’s artwork is able to balance these charming character beats and build upon them, particularly the way that the Vision and Hercules interact with the star-struck patrons of a bar. All in all, a truly wonderful book that more people should be reading.
Batwoman #7 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Shot down over the Sahara Desert, Kate Kane must press on regardless to stop the Needle, a member of the Many Arms of Death. Her journey is a long one, aided by artist Fernando Blanco, who tracks movements and arcs of motion through multiple panels and establishes a clear direction across his pages. Writer Marguerite Bennett’s narration delves into Kate’s mindset as she makes this dangerous trek across the desert, but it’s the flashbacks that are the highlight of the issue, focusing on Kate’s flirtation with the Arms earlier in his life. Towards the end, Blanco gets more of a chance to experiment, with a psychedelic set of pages that’s not unlike Marco Rudy’s work. The cliff-hanger suggests there’s more of this in store, and while this new development shows some potential, the journey to get there hasn’t been a walk in the park.
Generations: Ms. Marvel & Ms. Marvel #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In this installment of Generations, Kamala Khan is thrown into the past where nice clothes cost less than $20 and Carol Danvers runs a women’s magazine rather than Alpha Flight. Ever since Civil War II, Kamala has been on the outs with her idol Carol Danvers, and this issue embraces these chain of events while also reminding Kamala why she picked the Ms. Marvel name in the first place. Kamala sees that even as a young hero or an editor of a dying women’s magazine, Carol doesn’t allow obstacles to get in the way of what she believes in. It’s a pleasure to watch Kamala once again find admiration for the person who inspired her to become a hero. The pencils by Paolo Villanelli and regular Ms. Marvel colorist Ian Herring perfectly encompasses the retro feel G. Willow Wilson captures with her script. The pencils are clean and Herring’s colorings gives the comic a pulpy feel that nicely encapsulates old-school Ms. Marvel. Generations: Ms. Marvel & Ms. Marvel is a much needed one-shot that gives Kamala a new view on what it means to be a legacy hero.
Generation Gone #3 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The world of Generation Gone was already a pressure cooker, and it was inevitable that it would explode. The front cover and back page credits incorporating a panel into their design enhances the flow of serialization with #3 getting right into the swing of things as Nick takes out his anger at the police force who just killed his brother – an action which is sure to make tensions between him, Elena and Baldwin run even higher. Ales Kot has riffed on genres before, but this is him taking the ideas that birthed the X-Men and altering them enough to work in a contemporary sense, both politically –– it is said explicitly the trio have “strong anti-government sentiments” –– and from a metaphorical sense. André Lima Araújo and Chris O’Halloran bring a strong visual eye to the series, the opening scenes darts between the red and blues of the police and the more dialogue-driven scenes use unconventional framing, pushing characters to the edges, and sometimes the corners, of the panels, resulting in a distinctive look that ensure the series is looking to be its own thing rather than pure pastiche.
Venomverse #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): There’s something a little bit nihilist about Venomverse as a series, in the fact that it’s a book that seems kind of ambivalent about its own high concept. On paper, it’s like chocolate and peanut butter — or in this case, Marvel’s heroes and symbiotes — but for the most part in-story, the symbiotes don’t add much to characters like Old Man Logan, Deadpool, X-23, Doctor Strange or Rocket Racoon other than purely cosmetic tweaks, making this story feel strangely business as usual as far as events go. But to his credit, writer Cullen Bunn ramps this arc to its natural conclusion, as Eddie Brock and the Venom corps bring back the one creature who is adept at killing symbiotes: Carnage. Artist Iban Cohelo keeps the action intense and kinetic, even if the designs for the possessed Venoms look a little anemic. But as a story, this is a kind of stealth crossover whose central frills feels almost unnecessary — the Venom suits so far don’t give this story much of a spin that could be accomplished without them, making Venomverse feel like a fan-indulgent but ultimately empty exercise.
Invincible #140 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): As we inch closer to the finale of Invincible, the stakes continue to rise with every new installment of the series. Invincible #140 focuses on what seems to be the final battle between General Thragg, one of the series’ biggest villains, and Invincible. Since this story is so action-oriented, the issue relies a lot on Ryan Ottley’s pencils and Nathan Fairbairn’s colors, but sadly the bright orange and yellow coloring of the battle’s setting is distracting and makes the battle scenes hard to focus on. As for the dialogue, it was interesting to see Thragg and Invincible discuss their ideologies throughout the battle, but it was also something that quickly became tedious. Invincible #140’s setting makes it hard to enjoy the battle, which is disappointing since this is a fight many Invincible fans have waited years to see, but the ending raises the stakes for what should be an interesting next issue.
Secret Weapons #4 (Published by Valiant Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In the earlier backmatter of this miniseries, Eric Heisserer discussed the difficulties of creating something that needs to feel connected to the wider universe but can also stand on its own as a story that’s accessible to new readers. In wrapping up this miniseries, he mostly succeeds – the team are ready to take on Rex-O and do so within the issue, but that doesn’t mark the end of their story. Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s art is formally dense and bursting with energy –– note a transition between faces from the first page to the second –– but Heisserer’s script is more relaxed until the climax, where it picks up the pace considerably in order to get the characters into place for where they’re heading in the future. By all means, the miniseries has been strong enough to warrant getting excited for whatever that may be, but the dynamics of Secret Weapons have been so strong that I want to spend more time with the group right now.
Snotgirl #7 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Snotgirl follows Lottie, a social media mogul seems to have everything – but what happens online rarely translates as such to the real world. In reality, Lottie is an extremely paranoid person with allergies from hell, and with this issue, her fashionista facade starts to crumble as her frenemies discover the runny nose the green-haired starlet so desperately tries to hide. If that betrayal wasn’t enough, this issue’s B-story adds fuel to the fire, focusing on Charlene, Lottie’s old stalker who Coolgirl threw off a building — yeah, that Charlene. The story focuses on Charlene’s recovery, as she starts to remember the party from the series’ first issue – where she saw Coolgirl’s bloody body lying next to Lottie. The lines of reality and fiction continue to blur, and one can’t help but wonder if Coolgirl is a figment of Lottie’s imagination. Does Coolgirl represent the real Lottie trying to break her impossible social media image? Leslie Hung’s artwork is the perfect fit for this as it puts emphasis on the glamour of Lottie’s world with the series’ focus on high-end clothes and perfect makeup – exterior extensions of beauty covering one’s true self. Snotgirl continues to break down our social media-obsessed culture in a clever narrative that forces you to question the reliability of the series’ narrator.