Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for a six-pack of Rapid-Fire Reviews? Best Shots has you covered with this week's pellets! Let's kick off with Rambunctious Richard Gray, as he takes on The Silencer...
The Silencer #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10):The introduction of a new character is always a tricky thing, and The Silencer is one of eight titles releases under the New Age of DC Heroes banner. Storytellers John Romita, Jr. and Dan Abnett come swinging out of the gate with the tale of the past catching up with ex-Leviathan assassin turned suburban mom. The character comes equipped with an inventive set of powers, in which the Talia Al-Ghul trained fighter encases her foe in a field devoid of sound. Romita’s distinctive artwork is just shy of cutting loose into Kick-Ass territory, and about the only thing missing is the buckets of blood. Only pages in, the skilled artist drafts a hand-to-hand fight in a tight series of panels, later contrasting the day-to-day suburban life with onomatopoeic explosions and a costume that tears up the page. Sure, there’s shades of The Long Kiss Goodnight, but it looks like it will be a while before we give this the kiss-off.
Jean Grey #11 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): In a way, the conclusion of Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibanez’s Jean Grey is a more satisfying resurrection story than the other Jean Grey resurrection story Marvel’s got going on. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that adult Jean has no resonance in the modern Marvel Universe while Young Jean is so much a product of it. We’ve seen Young Jean come into her own and grow in a much different way than we did adult Jean and the recognition of her own power and agency in this finale is really effective. This Jean might never have lived through the Dark Phoenix Saga but in a way, Hopeless has at least given us her own version of it. Victor Ibanez, Aberto Albuquerque and Jay David Ramos provide the best art this series has seen to date and the timing couldn't be better. The script is all over the place, bouncing Jean from locale to locale but the art team doesn’t waver, upping the ante page after page until Jean’s face off with the Phoenix.
Mystik U #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10):The second issue in this Hogwarts by way of X-Men miniseries continues to impress. The double-sized books give writer Alisa Kwitney space to explore this world while foreshadowing the coming Malevolence. Zatanna continues to find the edges of her new powers, while getting sucked into a sorority rush by a giant bee. Which is the joy of Mystic U, mixing the trials and tribulations of first year college (new friends, drugs and alcohol, studying) with the magic that the title would imply. Norton’s art is sublime, with Jordie Bellaire’s soft color palette giving this coming-of-age series a timeless feel. A scene in which the Scott Summers-esque Sebastian Faust lets his inner demons loose adds to the retro horror, but there’s also the comedic character “composed of phlegm…and the putrid detritus of a college dorm bathroom.” Here’s hoping that when this limited series is over, there is more room in the DCU for more wonderful character-based stories like this.
Tales of Suspense #101 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In the latest outing of Black Widow’s Ex-Boyfriends Club, Bucky and Hawkeye are still at odds about the possible existence of Natasha Romanoff and Matthew Rosenberg uses the conflict to have some fun. The dynamic between the two lead characters is a lot of fun even if Rosenberg does play Bucky a little more straight and rigid in order to make the jokes land a little easier. But the two are still just chasing down this would-be Black Widow so he issue really lives and dies with your enjoyment of the interplay between the erstwhile Thunderbolts. Travel Foreman turns in a good effort. His linework is so thin though that it either feels like it's failing to fill up a page/panel or it’s crowding it out with too much detail. Foreman doesn’t ever really hit the sweet spot between those two extremes. His storytelling sense is solid, though, and the rubbery quality of his expression work does lend itself well to the character moments in Rosenberg’s script.
The Flash Annual #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10):In some ways, this story is just a massive tease for Flash War event coming up in a few months time. Yet it’s also a story that’s been well over a year in the making, concentrating on the pre-Flashpoint Wally West and his return to the world. Framed within a 25th century murder investigation that spins out of Barry and Iris’ recent trip to the future, the bulk of the issue concerns Wally West I’s attempts to reconnect with Frances Kane/Magenta and returning to his rightful place in the DCU. Howard Porter’s art on the connecting pieces is a treasure trove for fans: his trashed Flash Museum reaches Moebius levels of detail that will have you poring over the spread for a while. Alongside Christian Duce, it’s an issue where the art team really manage to visually distinguish the styles of the three different speedsters ahead of the coming event. Flash Fact: the final page reveal will make you wish you could use the Speed Force to jump to May to zoom into the meat of this arc.
Avengers #678 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): This event is a mess. The story’s perspective shifts over to the Human Torch this issue, and we just bits and pieces of narrative as it crawls forward. We see the brief aftermath of last issue, as Quicksilver has been beaten to within an inch of his life, the Scarlet Witch still can’t get Vision unfrozen, and The Avengers are becoming aware that they’re part of a larger game. While the expanded cast is a smart idea on paper, with many of these characters appearing elsewhere, it's hard to feel like there are any stakes in this story, which is the opposite of the goal of an event. Pepe Larraz is turning in generally good work when it comes to character rendering, but he does little to separate different locations visually. The result is art that just runs together with little regard for what’s taking place on the page. It only further underlines how inconsequential the plotting feels at this stage. It’s hard to muster more than a shrug for this event.