Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered with this week’s Rapid-Fire Reviews, as Prolific Pierce Lydon kicks us off with a look at Death of the Inhumans...
Death of the Inhumans #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Donny Cates takes a brooding and brutal look into what just might be the last days of the Inhumans in this issue. The trick is that the writer manages to make them interesting for the first time in years by taking most of them off the board in the first place. Now, as the remaining Inhumans confront their foes, there are actual stakes! Ariel Olivetti gives a more natural look to the proceedings than we’ve seen from him in the past, eschewing the almost computer generated look that he had cultivated for one that feels much more impactful because it lacks that glossy sheen. Jordie Bellaire deserves some credit for turning in an excellent coloring outing in that regard. Death of the Inhumans is the story that these characters need right now, even if it might be the last time we see them for a while.
Adventures of the Super-Sons #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Angst engine Damian Wayne and eternal optimist Jon Kent are back for another volume of Super-Sons, and they’re picking up right where they left off. Peter J. Tomasi continues to guide their story while Carlo Barberi handles the art for DC’s most delightful dynamic duo, and it’s a great match. The Saturday morning cartoon bent to Barberi’s art has a buoyancy that keeps the book really light and fun. Tomai’s script strikes a great balance between Damian’s snarky cynicism and Jon’s willing earnesty. This is a joyful, fun book. It may not have the world-altering consequences of many other titles in the DC Universe, but it’s a nice bit of levity, and that’s enough.
Long Lost: Part Two #1 (Published by Scout Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Around the seven-page mark, Long Lost: Part Two #1 proves that despite the fact that the six-issue opening has conditioned readers to expect the unexpected, writer Matthew Erman still has a fair amount of surprises up his sleeve. While the first half of the series found strength in its dynamics between sisters Piper and Frances, he makes the bold choice of splitting them up at the onset of the comic. Rather than hindering the comic, it adds a level of stakes a situation that already feels dire. Series artist Lisa Sterle delivers a visual feast throughout the issue, and while a lot of attention might be draw to the larger, more surreal panels, there is a quiet skill throughout the more subtle panels. For example, a few panels after Piper and Frances are running away from a giant hog with a mouth full of skeletons, she depicts the two sister protagonists walking down separate caves in a way that unmistakably calls to mind the nostrils of a pig’s snout. The first volume of Long Lost was an impressive, and if Long Lost: Part Two #1 is any indication, the creative team of Erman and Sterle will surpass that already high benchmark.
Captain America #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): “Who wanted to be a man more than me? I guess that’s the root of all this.” Ta-Nehisi Coates comes out of the gate swinging in Captain America #2, a soulful and melancholic second chapter that smartly ties super-soldiers and modern warfare to toxic masculinity. After his first page, it’s hard not to see how much Coates emphasizes a group of Nuke soldiers shouting about “our boys,” but it’s equally heart-wrenching to watch Steve Rogers struggle how to separate himself from a culture of coarseness and violence — a culture that can blame him and his Hydra-spawned doppelganger for that with equal measure. But at the same time, it’s that drive to not be emasculated — to be a man, to not be weak — that drives Cap, and the moral ambiguity of that creeps up along the edges of this story, thanks to some beautiful art from artist Leinil Francis Yu, inker Gerry Alanguilan and colorist Sunny Gho. That said, if there’s two things that hold this series back, it’s that Coates’ narration and Yu’s artwork often feels at a disconnect — they’re both strong, but not working in sync just yet. The decompression is a little noticeable as well, with this issue’s action feeling a bit too similar from the last chapter. Still, I’m really enjoying the angle Coates is taking on the Star-Spangled Avenger, and this slow burn may pay off soon enough.
Mister Miracle #10 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): “We made it,” Barda says from off-panel. Meanwhile, Scott lies on the shower floor in the fetal position. Having a child might be the most joyous thing to happen to them both, but the war rages on for Mister Miracle both externally and internally. There’s still pain and trauma to be dealt with, this is a Tom King comic after all, as Darkseid’s demand to have his grandson delivered to him hangs over everything. This issue is everything the series has been previously –– defined by its nine-panel grids, stunning rendered by artist Mitch Gerads and King’s concoction of gallows humor, poignant conversation and brief observations on Earth’s mundanities; sometimes all at once. While Scott appears in all scenes, this issue’s strength is how much room it has for Barda’s thoughts on their situation. Scott’s tragedy has been apparent since the series’ start, but this issue indicates that she’s felt just as trapped — just she’s attempting to process it in a different way.
Cosmic Ghost Rider #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Cosmic Ghost Rider #2 proves that Donny Cates is an entertaining and creative force to be reckoned with, as the comic plays subtlety with ideas of determinism and environmental factors in personality. On one hand, Baby Thanos has an immediately noticeable sense of bloodlust and curiosity for the morbid, and on the other, Frank Castle is unhinged because of forces outside of himself — a continuation from how situations created him as the Punisher. The comic doesn’t spend much time actually exploring what makes the Mad Titan so mad through dialogue, and this is to be inferred from the characters. The interactions between Frank, Lil’ Thanos, Galactus, and the Watcher are a highlight of the comic, and show Cates reveling in his control of tone. It’s strong enough that the final-page twist feels like it might be coming too soon, as these interactions seem like they have more fuel in the tank. Artist Dylan Burnett is at his peak when using cartoonish expressions on the faces of Thanos and Uatu as they make already well-paced comedic moments have an extra punch. Antonio Fabela is always a stellar colorist and this comic isn’t the exception, with his work on the comic’s two-page splash and Frank’s burning skull being noticeably well-colored.
Seven to Eternity #10 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Joey Edsall; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Rick Remender’s odyssey returns in Seven to Eternity #10, as we watch the next steps of Adam Osidis’ quest to free his people from the God of Whispers. Most comics would center an entire comic around the fantastically strange opening of the comic, the balloon bandit attack halfway through, or the Mud King’s torture in the city in the sky, but Remender has built this series on the premise that this is a strange land, a vow he follows through on issue after issue. Jerome Opena’s art in this issue in particular makes Zhal look grander and larger than it has in the past. What solidifies the visual treat that this comic is, though, is the vibrant and diverse color range used by Matt Hollingsworth and how letterer Rus Wooten makes a series with an increasingly robust cast feel manageable. If there’s a flaw to be found, it’s the slight inconsistency of the Mud King’s rule of Zhal. Early on in the comic’s run, it seemed like an utter stranglehold, but this issue really drives home how tenuous that grasp was. This could be a commentary about how power is rarely as solid as it seems, and that something that once seemed absolute is just propped up by a handful of actors, but as of now there isn’t much evidence in the text. Still, Seven to Eternity continues to be one of the most consistent titles in Image’s line-up and probably the most interesting setting of any fantasy comic currently on the shelves.
Immortal Hulk #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): An airport, a moving car, a hospital. All interstitial spaces, nobody intends to stay in these places for very long. They keep you on the go, a philosophy which is also applicable to Bruce Banner. Shaking up Immortal Hulk’s structure again, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett tell this issue from the perspective of reporter Jacqueline McGee, as she heads to the newest site of a Hulk sighting –– seen on the issue’s cover –– with Alpha Flight’s Walter Langkowski in the passenger seat. Bennett, Ruy José and Paul Mounts push in closer on the pair as they drive, as the issue cuts back and forth between them and Walter’s story, as the panel borders close in. His story allows for insight into his and Banner’s time at Penn State, which also allows readers the chance to fill in the blanks if this series is one of their first encounters with the Hulk, while Ewing continues to deliver a remarkably fresh take. Bennett’s characters are rarely shown in full, with panels that can never seem to contain them, and this visual grammar affords this character study a terrifying combination of intimacy and claustrophobia.