Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thusday pellets? Best Shots has you covered, with this week’s Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off today’s column with Charismatic C.K. Stewart, who take a look at this week’s issue of Batman...
Batman #46 (Published by DC Comics; Review by C.K. Stewart; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Things take a weird turn in this week’s Batman #46. Wedding planning is hard work, but somehow Tom King finds something even worse to saddle Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne with: an alternate timeline (maybe) featuring a well-meaning Booster Gold and an almost unrecognizable Gotham City. Artist Tony S. Daniel and colorist Tomeu Morey do an excellent job on art (with an ink assist from Sandu Florea) - Gotham seems strangely bright and familiar, but a little weird all at once. Booster Gold carries a lot of the issue, and while his almost manic chattering gets a little exhausting, by the end of the issue, he seems less like a brash try-hard and more like a man who has seen too much and is desperate to find a way to recover everything he’s lost, no matter what the cost. This issue is a little jarring compared to the more somber and heartfelt “Everybody Loves Ivy” arc, but it’s certainly an intriguing left turn to take in the months leading up to Batman and Catwoman’s big wedding.
Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10):Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost #1 is a noticeable step up in quality from last week’s Hunt For Wolverine, thanks in large part to how writer Charles Soule, artist Matteo Buffagni, and colorist Jim Charalampidis so gracefully establish a sense of tone and setting. New York feels more like New York than it does in the majority of comic books set in the Big Apple, while Soule’s writing for the hard-boiled narrative that this comic sets out to be is strong throughout, with one possible hiccup being his coding of Laura’s only distinguishing feature as a Wolverine being that she’s “the lady.” Soule also excels at creating a believable dynamic between Daredevil, Inhuman detective Frank McGee, and Misty Knight, to the point that Daredevil’s comrades feel as though they have entire comic runs’ worth of stories to explore. Meanwhile, it’s hard to overstate just how well-executed the art in this issue is, with Buffagni’s faces showing a world-weariness that makes the cast more interesting, and Charalampidis’ expertly using shadows and darker colors to make the world feel real. The line of Hunt For Wolverine comic books might seem bloated, but if they all end up like this it might just be worth it.
Coda #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Si Spurrier latest yarn for BOOM! Studios is a magical post-apocalypse story that takes a few pages to get going, but once it does it never lets up. Part of the fun of the book is Spurrier’s voice for his main character, the antisocial bard Hum. He’s wholly concerned with his mission and generally pretty over everything else. But this isn’t a grimdark exploration of a broken man - in fact, it’s much the opposite, thanks to Matias Bergara’s eye-popping colors and expressive linework. From the first page, this world feels lived in and larger-than-life. The colorful nature of it makes this post-apocalypse translate as almost a more adult, medieval-tinged Adventure Time (even if color palette and general setting is really where those comparisons end). Spurrier takes a little while to get to just what the thrust of this story is supposed to be (Hum is looking for his wife), but getting there in a roundabout way makes this feel like a really full 40-page debut. If you can let yourself get wrapped up in this world, it pays dividends. Coda looks to be another hit for BOOM! Studios.
Deathstroke #31 (Published by DC Comics; Review by C.K. Stewart; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Preist is a stellar writer, but as a single issue Deathstroke #31 feels a little impenetrable. Lettering layouts in panels with rapid-fire back-and-forths are tough to follow, particularly when there’s a running gag about two different voices sharing the same name. Carlo Pagulayan and Roberto Viacara deliver excellent action sequences following Slade’s excursion in Saudi Arabia, and Jason Paz and Jeromy Cox’s greyscale work in some sequences interspersed through the issue give the overarching story a kind of nostalgic, noir vibe. These moments - interviews with sidekicks past - help tie the two parallel narratives together, highlighting the themes of family and fatherhood that serve as undercurrents to the more traditional Mission: Impossible style action-heist fare. A very easy-to-miss textbox notes this particular story takes place at an unspecified past in the DC timeline - you may want to wait til the trade is released in our timeline to enjoy the full four-issue “Deathstroke versus Batman” arc as a complete story.
Infinity Countdown #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): While the sense of fun that has propelled Infinity Countdown forward is still present in Infinity Countdown #3, the latest issue of the pre-event loses a lot of the consistency and balance in its multifaceted storytelling. This issue is messy in its first act, focusing on the continued conflict between Adam Warlock and Ultron. Writer Gerry Duggan is adept at tackling the Silver Surfer, who is confronted with the souls of those who died while he was Herald to Galactus, but once Ultron lays out his plan to launch rockets all over the galaxy (just as Warlock discovers him, no less), everything just feels contrived and the stakes stop feeling real. Luckily, the second half of the comic, wherein the Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Ant-Man, and Eve Bakian fight for the Power Stone, is much stronger. It's the emotional moments between brothers Richard and Robbie Ryder, Drax playing a Power Stone-fueled saxophone, and the final reveal of the Surfer requesting help from Galactus that course-correct the comic and will likely keep readers on for the next installment. The art team of Aaron Kuder, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot, and Jordie Bellaire excite readers throughout the issue, with a degree of care and attention given to page turns that makes the explosive moments feel explosive, which helps Duggan’s final moments of triumph and last page of intrigue.
Nightwing #44 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Benjamin Percy swings into Blüdhaven, kicking off his run on Nightwing with an arc looking to juxtapose the old and the new. Dick Grayson’s feeling disconnected from an ever-changing world as technology continually makes progress, affecting how people interact when it comes to both dating and the assassination business alike. Then a phone explodes on a subway and his investigation sends him further down the technological rabbit hole. There’s a similar juxtaposition in the rendering of the story: while Percy’s narrative is about the modern, Chris Mooneyham and Nick Filardi’s art harkens back to a previous era, evoking a mix between Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. Action happens across splashes and spreads looking to accentuate motion while angular lines give this a hard-edged feel, even slipping in a 16-panel grid. While this feels in line with the atmosphere that Blüdhaven radiates, Percy’s characterization of Grayson seems imperfect at this early stage, even if aspects carry across from prior runs. The rest of the arc will hopefully flesh out the particulars and make the appropriate bug fixes, but this first issue seems flawed on a conceptual level.
Rogue & Gambit #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): As their miniseries concludes, Rogue and Gambit find themselves fighting copies of themselves, gradually regaining the memories each doppelganger evokes. Kelly Thompson’s script doesn’t linger on each and every one of these vignettes, but lets Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata mine continuity for costume variations to best represent this. Coupled with the various memory shards and glimpses of panels past, they properly emphasize Remy and Rogue’s relationship and how much the two have been through over the years. Not only that, but it is to the creative team’s credit that they find an additional nuance, providing a glimpse of Charmaine’s interiority, rather than settling for a straight-up punch-up. Despite a premise that could’ve resulted in purely looking at the past, Thompson’s script is about confronting these characters’ history and seeing how that can propel them forward. Given the success of this creative team, it’s ultimately disappointing they won’t be able carry on developing Rogue & Gambit further.