Best Shots Rapid Fire Reviews: THANOS #17, BATMAN #43, RUNAWAYS #7, JUSTICE LEAGUE #41, DEATH OF LOVE #2, SUPERMAN #43

Marvel Comics March 2018 solicitations
Credit: Marvel Comics

Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let's kick off today's column with Jacked Joey Edsall, who takes a look at this week's issue of Thanos...

Credit: Marvel Comics

Thanos #17 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Since taking the helm of the Mad Titan's titular series, it has become clear that Donny Cates is one of the best things Marvel has going for it in 2018. And with Thanos #17, the series has perhaps reached its highest point yet. At the start of the issue, there is only the Silver Surfer, future Thanos, Cosmic Ghost Rider, present-day Thanos, and the Hulk. After an issue-spanning fight that never feels as though it's obligatory or distracting from the story being told, it’s hard not to feel chills when the battle reaches its climax. Aiding in this endeavor is artist Geoff Shaw and color artist Antonio Fabela. The balance that Shaw creates between chaotic action panels and minimal, quieter panels is to the comic's absolute benefit and does a lot to keep everything feeling as neatly paced as it is, while Fabela's coloring is at its best when dealing with either an excess or lack of lighting sources. As intense and unstoppable as its lead, this series continues to make good on the intentions it stated in issue one—because at the end of everything, Thanos wins.

Credit: DC Comics

Batman #43 (Published by DC Comics; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The “Everybody Loves Ivy” arc draws to a close in this week’s Batman #43, not with a bang, but with a whimper. That said, this issue is still a great read, making it a testament to how strong this arc has been that even a misstep before the finish line can’t bring it down too much. Mikel Janin delivers some great subtle expressions on Harley Quinn in this issue, and it’ll be a shame not to see more of June Chung’s lush, beautiful colors on Poison Ivy in the verdant world Ivy created for herself in Gotham. That longing for more is where the issue falters; this issue plows through to its warm-hearted conclusion at a substantially quicker clip than the rest of the arc. The pace picks up just enough to make you feel like it could have used maybe one more issue to really breathe — King delivers a sweet moment for Ivy and Harley that deserves another page or two at least, and it would have been nice to explore that conversation and the parallels he has Bruce lay out between Harley and Ivy and Bruce and Selina in more detail. All in all, a solid arc, but DC, just let someone say Harley and Ivy love each other. It’s okay, y’all.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Runaways #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Now that Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka finally have their group together again, Runaways #7 proves to an endearing slice of life story featuring Marvel’s most dysfunctional group of superheroes as they struggle with their greatest challenge of all: dealing with reality. For perennial screw-up Chase Stein, that means (gulp) interviewing for a real job; for Nico, it means magically adopting Molly Hayes (don’t ask, it’s a great moment) while dealing with her feelings for a teammate; while Gert and Victor each try to move forward from their own existential catastrophes. Rowell brings the same density of storytelling and characterization from her novels to this issue, and instead of feeling overstuffed, it feels weighty and deep—this is a great jumping-on point for anyone who’s watched the recent Hulu series. Meanwhile, Kris Anka gives these characters a humor and warmth that makes them instantly likable, from Molly’s BFF dance to Nico’s perpetually closed-off body language. Runaways #7 is easily one of the best books of the week, so don’t miss out.

Credit: David Yardin (DC Comics)

Justice League #41 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): There's no avoiding it: Justice League #41 is a slog. Christopher Priest is doing his best Chris Claremont in terms of delivering on the accents of the East African people who have found a crashed Watchtower in their midst, but coupled with some janky lettering, that makes this issue a frustrating and slow read. The character work feels off in general across the League, and the pacing is glacial. Philippe Briones does some decently work though. Coupled with Jeromy Cox’s colors, the pages look fairly refined, save for a couple of angles leading to character faces getting strangely disfigured. Red Lion is a good-looking villain, even if he’s just a palette-swapped Black Panther. But on the whole, though, Justice League #41 will leave readers a bit empty - it’s just not doing enough things well to warrant significant praise.

Credit: Image Comics

Death of Love #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Justin Jordan and Donal Delay’s Death of Love picks up the pace with its sophomore installment, as not-so-Nice-Guy Philo Harris discovers there’s a whole world of romance hidden behind what we mere mortals can see — which naturally means he’s going to kidnap a cupid and hold him hostage. Now that he’s done establishing the world for his story (and doing a great job at exposition along the way), Jordan’s plotting accelerates nicely here, as Philo’s first glimpse at an honest-to-goodness cherub is filled with menace, thanks to Delay’s leering artwork and Omar Estevez’s graffiti-esque colors. There’s a nice sense of propulsion (sometimes literally) as Philo goes all in on proving the cupidae’s existence, but there are a couple bugs in the execution still, with some of the one-liners not quite landing and Philo’s well-meaning friend Bob still coming across as heavy-handed. Delay’s angular, cartoony artwork continues to be a great fit for this story, particularly when we get to see a quick bit of violence — he and Jordan make some interesting choices near the end, actually shying away from direct bloodshed in smaller panels. All in all, this series is definitely building up steam, and the more Jordan and Delay are able to delve into their high concept, the more fun Death of Love will be.

Credit: DC Comics

Superman #43 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It's a bit of a rough start to Superman #43, but Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Joe Prado bring it home in the end. Bizarro stories are always tough because of the headache-inducing speech patterns, but Tomasi and Gleason manage to bring some level of humanity to Boyzarro through his interactions with Jon. Plus, it’s the little details that really make this one work, like Boyzarro throwing cats back into trees. Robzarro and Tiny are good for a laugh, too. So while this issue may tread a bit on the cutesy, bucolic side, there are some fun moments. Gleason’s art paces the proceedings well and when it eventually gives way to Prado’s linework, the transition is fairly seamless. We’ll see if this creative team has any last tricks up their sleeves before leaving the Man of Steel to Brian Michael Bendis, but for now, this is just good, solid storytelling.

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