Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets as we gear up for our C2E2 coverage? Then you’re in luck, as Best Shots has your Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off today’s column with Jolly Justin Partridge, who takes a look at Marvel 2-in-One…
Marvel 2-in-One #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The Fantastic Four are back — sort of — in the latest issue of Marvel 2-in-One. Deposited into a universe where Doctor Doom became Galactus in the wake of Reed Richards’ failure to stop the eater of worlds, “our” Johnny and Ben set about the task of protecting this vulnerable world just like they have countless others. And with the help of the alternate universe Reed and Sue, along with the tailgating Doom of “our” universe, they just might do it. Writer Chip Zdarsky has done a great job so far of making use of Johnny and Ben’s dynamic and though the other half of the FF roster is filled out by alternate versions, he shows in this fifth issue that he is more than capable of delivering an effective and fun full Fantastic Four dynamic. Artist Valerio Schiti and colorist Frank Martin also get in on the fun, delivering expensive and vibrant set pieces, chock full of big name cameos and classic FF team-up moves, including a classic “Reed-makes-himself-into-a-parachute” scene. It may not be the FF, but at least it's a FF as Marvel 2-in-One continues to keep the First Family’s light alive.
Batman #44 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): From Tom King, Mikel Janin and June Chung comes a whistle-stop tour through a series of encounters between Batman and Catwoman over the years, juxtaposed against Selina’s quest for the perfect dress in the other half, drawn by Joëlle Jones and Jordie Bellaire. Oscillating between continuity throwbacks and a silent nighttime adventure, King’s script carries itself with a spring in its step, switching between the two modes as gracefully as Catwoman. Janin and Jones’ styles couldn’t be more different, but both are allowed to play to their strengths with tailor-made sequences that feature Batman and Catwoman’s ever-changing look over the course of nearly 80 years. The former gets more traditional superhero scenes while the latter focuses in on intimate character observation with Selina. Chung’s colors evoke a classic approach, while Bellaire ensures that her half of the issue could be the “something blue” for the wedding day that draws ever closer.
WWE WrestleMania 2018 Special #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): “The Granddaddy of Them All” gets a kinetic and often hilarious love letter of an anthology in the WWE WrestleMania 2018 Special. Jammed packed with various tales of WrestleMania’s past across four stories, BOOM! Studios represents all manner of tones and stars across the anthology, all in service of putting the “entertainment” in “sports entertainment”. Highlights include Ryan Ferrier and Kendall Goode’s hysterical take on WM VII’s tussle between the Macho King and The Ultimate Warrior, which ends up being a surprisingly sweet look and Macho and Miss Elizabeth’s relationship and Tini Howard, Rodrigo Lorenzo, and Doug Garbarik’s short but sweet Stephanie McMahon centered story from WrestleMania 32. These are just two examples of this special's attention to the details of the sport and what makes it pop for fans by creative teams that truly “get it.” This WWE WrestleMania 2018 Special is the perfect warm-up for this Sunday’s festivities.
Nightwing #42 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): I'm not gonna lie — Nightwing #42 is boss as hell. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly step into the series with artist Jorge Corona in a kung fu-inspired one-shot, and honestly, it's the coolest thing the pair has ever written. As Nightwing battles the gang known as the Crimson Kabuki for the fate of Damian Wayne, Lanzing, Kelly and Corona keep readers on their toes with ever-shifting scenes and layouts, taking a page out of the Christopher Priest playbook with winning results. (And honestly, seeing Nightwing in a suit, tie and domino mask is literally the most awesome Dick Grayson has looked in probably a decade - Corona makes the look instantly iconic, and if Lanzing and Kelly had just allowed Dick to look this badass the entire issue, this would have been an easy 10 out of 10.) The plotting on this issue may feel a little scattershot, but the combination of snappy action, Bruce Lee one-liners, and insane bits of spectacle make Nightwing #42 easily the most fun cape comic of the week. Don't sleep on this one.
Long Lost #5 (Published by Scout Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): If the previous four issues of Long Lost established the creative pairing of writer Matthew Erman and artist Lisa Sterle as a tone-heavy combination, Long Lost #5 allows the former's skills at crafting dialogue while the latter puts on a showcase of how a conversation-heavy comic can still be visually interesting through slight changes to the flow of panels to be read to the character positioning and backgrounds within the panel. While the flow of panels is strong, the combination of the dialogue with the lettering leads to some panels having some stumbling moments where readers may inadvertently read the wrong bubble next, but for the majority of the time this isn't a problem. That focus on the conversations between Piper, Frances, and their aunt doesn't come at the expense of tone, however, as the final third of this issue sees Erman and Sterle drive the comic to its most frightening and unsettling, with the closing moments, in particular, pushing the southern gothic elements of the story to their most operatic. You can really tell that this is where the creative team has been driving the building tension of the series, as the comic pushes the boundaries of what it previously established as bizarre.
Tinseltown #1 (Published by Arcana Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): It wasn't easy, being a female police officer in the 1910s — but when you add in the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood, nothing is what it seems. With Tinseltown #1, writer David Lucarelli works a couple of smart angles with his debut story about Abigail Moore, a woman in hot pursuit of a badge - a quest that leads her to be one of the semi-official police officers of a Hollywood studio. Mixing together the struggles of early 20th century feminism with the innate vapidity of Hollywood proves to be a shrewd cocktail, and while the plot unspools a little slowly, Lucarelli gives the book an Agent Carter-style flavor. Artist Henry Ponciano has a cleanness to his style that reminds me of Chris Evanhuis, and while the opening pages feel a bit stiff, once Abigail is on the lot, he starts to loosen up nicely. Tinseltown might not be as polished or slick as its namesake, but there's a solid story here that bears watching.
Analog #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Jack McGinnis is the kind of guy who’s not sure what day it is and once firebombed a bad restaurant in the hopes of something better taking its place. Working as a Ledger Man who delivers secrets in a low-tech fashion, he’s also learned not to ask questions. Taking place in a near-future where all digital information is out in the open, the initial premise of Analog is similar to The Private Eye, though it lacks that series’ bombast. Duggan’s script ensures a sense of his lead and teases out worldbuilding along the way, but ultimately comes up short in terms of uniqueness by the time it reaches its abrupt cliffhanger. David O’Sullivan’s art is Chaykin-esque and he constructs this world out of sharp angles that work to give the story a coarse quality, but neither he or Jordie Bellaire get to show what they can really do. Narratively, there’s a promise that there’s more going on than initially presented, but the problem is that Analog’s concept isn’t fresh enough to engage from the jump.
Green Hornet #2 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Mulan starts to feel the sting of a Hornet’s life in Green Hornet #2. Wasting little time getting Mulan well and truly in the fray, writer Amy Chu gets her mixing it up on the streets of Century City as the Hornet by night and investigating Britt Reid’s disappearance as a Daily Sentinel reporter by day. Again it is nice to see Chu committing to the double life of a vigilante and even better that she is surrounding Mulan with more capable female characters in her pursuit of balance. Artists German Erramouspe and Brittany Pezzillo also really acquit themselves admirably to Mulan’s new double life by detailing her nights as a hero with focused and dynamic action while her days are filled with slower, more thoughtful scenes based in the newsroom. Britt Reid may still be missing but the Green Hornet is still alive and well thanks to this new series.