Hey there, ‘Rama readers! Pierce Lydon here, filling in for our fearless leader David Pepose with so much of the team out at Comic-Con International: San Diego. We’ve got some nine spicy takes on this week’s newest releases. We’ll kick things off with Jovial Justin Patridge and his look at the latest issue of Justice League.
Justice League #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): In Justice League #4, the combined might of the League face down the most deadly incarnation of the Legion of Doom to date. Justice League #4 is also a comic where Gorilla Grodd fights the Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman while wearing a baby bjorn. So, you know, there’s something for everyone. Bolstered by post-Metal revelations and gorgeous, kinetic artwork from Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez, Scott Snyder continues to just go as big as humanly possible when it comes to these single issues. Steadily building since No Justice, this fourth issue feels like a real climax to the story so far, even though we still have at least two issues left in this opening arc. But even just as a single issue, #4 succeeds thanks to titanic artwork, a clever script, and truly huge stakes for DC’s A-listers.
Thor #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Mike Del Mundo is definitely one of the best artists working in comic books today and he lets you know it right on the cover. His attention to detail is impeccable and the minor flourishes he adds are really great. But he’s not perfect. When he gets too ambitious with his layouts, he can muddy a reader’s understanding of what’s actually supposed to be happening on the page. And he can have too heavy a hand with the blur effects that we’re more used to seeing in film to help guide our focus. But Jason Aaron’s script features a lot of really fun Asgardian family drama that sees a couple of unexpected characters pop up as Hela and Balder marry to join forces against Muspelheim. Like I said, some of the art choices do get in the way of the flow of the story but overall, this is another great entry in Aaron’s continuing Thor epic.
Quantum & Woody! #8 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Eliot Rahal’s latest issue sees the brothers Henderson dealing with the fallout of the Otherverse and it’s a pretty fun fish-out-of-water story. Quantum and Woody! is a book that relies on humor and quick pacing and Rahal keeps the jokes coming. Thankfully, he has Joe Eisma to help those go over. Eisma’s very adept expression work definitely adds to the madcap feel of the book. And even though his background can feel a little light at times compared to what we’ve seen from him elsewhere, it works for the tone of the book. Letterer Dave Sharpe does some serious heavy lifting this issue as well. His lettering is extremely loud but perfectly in keeping with what this book needs. If you’re looking for a breezy action-comedy superhero book, you could do much worse than Quantum and Woody!
The Wild Storm #15 (Published by DC Comics/WildStorm; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The cold war between IO and Skywatch continues to heat up in The Wild Storm #15. Though still somewhat hampered by the strict serialization of the series, writer Warren Ellis and highly detailed artists Jon-Davis Hunt, Steve Buccellato, and John Kalisz still present us trippy, violent, and immensely clever check ins on our increasing cast. A cast that now includes a shell shocked and quippy new Jack Hawksmoor. A part of me still thinks this series may be better suited as a series of collections or maybe an all-encompassing GN as it becomes kind of hard to follow the plot if you have missed even one instalment. Butthe ambition, wit, and outright bugnuts style of The Wild Storm is still too weird to live, but too rare to die.
Cable #159 (Published by Marvel Comics Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson bring their Cable arc full circle this issue as they double down on the themes that make Cable one of the most compelling X-Men characters. Nadler and Thompson lean into some of the body horror weirdness they’re known for and give us the origin of Metus in the process. But it’s the conclusion of the arc that really puts a bow on their run. The X-Men and Cable in particular have a long and convoluted history and being able to wield that effectively to tell an emotionally resonant story is very tough but they manage it here. I don’t want to say too much but this is a Cable story for all time. German Peralta deftly handles the art for this issue, communicating the horror and the emotionality of the the proceedings and reminding us that Cable has evolved so much from being that future guy with big guns. Hats off to this creative team for really pushing this character forward.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Col. James Rhodes might be back, but that doesn’t mean he is back to 100% as this month’s installment of Tony Stark: Iron Man shows. Zooming back a bit from the high technology and big ideas of the debut issue, writer Dan Slott delivers a wonderfully down to earth story about a man struggling with his Thanos-induced PTSD while still trying to be the man he thinks he should be for his famous friend. This second issue is a lot more character focused than the debut, with Slott not only bringing Rhodey and his mental state to the forefront, but also Jocasta and her new robotic beau Aaron Stack, the Machine Man. But even amid all this emotionally intelligent storytelling Slott and artists Valerio Schiti and Edgar Delgado still give us a show stopping action sequence as Iron Man and War Machine take on the combined might of the Gauntlet (a true blast from Iron Man’s Initiative) and Sunset Bain’s monsterous all-terrain death machine the Manticore. I have to say, I was skeptical about this run once it was announced, but at the rate it’s going Tony Stark: Iron Man may just end up making me eat my words.
Batwoman #17 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): A new arc starts here for Marguerite Bennett and artist Fernando Blanco and it kicks off in fairly effective fashion. But Fernando Blanco and colorist John Rauch are unfortunately kind of inconsistent. When they’re on, they do a great job of emboldening Bennett’s script but when they aren’t in sync as in the opening pages or the closing ones, they look completely out of sorts with forced perspectives that aren’t very aesthetically pleasing and color choices that sometimes highlight those awkward angles. Bennett’s script pulls through those moments and delivers something that’s very akin to the best runs on this character. Batwoman is a book that’s flying a little under the radar but it’s still telling solid detective stories and further exploring Kate Kane.
Immortal Hulk #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Immortal Hulk mucks about and delivers its first stone cold classic issue with #3. Broken up into Rashomon-like vignettes where different witnesses recount what they saw during what the media is calling the “Mercer Ave. Incident,” writer Al Ewing continues his pulpy, horror tinged take on the Strongest Avenger. Though Ewing’s scripts for #1-2 were nothing to sneeze at, his unconventional approach to this issue instantly sets it apart from the pack and makes good on his promise to deliver a new kind of Hulk book for a new audience. Regular series artists Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Paul Mounts keep the title’s sketchy visual tone and look intact thanks to some framing panels, but Immortal Hulk #3’s real stars guest artists Leonardo Romeo, Paul Hornschemeier, and Marguerite Sauvage, all of whom deliver distinct visuals for their respective stories, making this issue’s pages truly unique. The Hulk doesn’t play by the rules and neither does Immortal Hulk and that is precisely what makes it great.
(Published by Black Mask Studios; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Bounty hunters Kim and Kim are back for their third adventure and it’s kind of a mixed bag. Eva Cabrera’s punchy Dan Parent-esque artwork is a fun juxtaposition for the content of the book and definitely helps sell some of the goofier moments. There are some noticeable inconsistencies - missing piercings that were previously established or scars changing locations - but on the whole the art definitely supports the tone of the book. This is supposed to be comics as an irreverent punk rock song and for the most part it is. But it feels underdone in part because of the lack of synergy between the art, Magdalene Visaggio’s script, and then Zaak Saam’s lettering. The pacing is pretty brisk in terms of the plot but Visaggio’s script is incredibly wordy in ways that the art hasn’t made allowances for and then Saam isn’t able to do much to salvage. The result is word balloons that end up crowding out certain panels and covering up Cabrera’s art. Fans of previous volumes of Kim & Kim will find the characters they love intact but this is a book that could use some editorial massaging.