Best Shots Rapid Fire: DEATHLOK, BUFFY, CINDERELLA, More

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Best Shots: Rapid Fire 11-5-09

Brought to you by Newsarama's Best Shots Crew &; your host: Troy Brownfield

Earlier this week, we introduced you to one new permutation of Best Shots with Best Shots Advanced.  Now, here’s the opposite extreme.  Rapid Fire is designed to give immediate, “pellet-sized” reactions on books that just hit the day before.  The familiar Best Shots column will still land every Monday, followed by Best Shots Advanced on Tuesday, and Rapid Fire on Thursday.  This one’s about the fast turnaround, so let’s get to it.

Athena #2 (Dynamite; review by Troy):  With solid art by Fabiano Neves and Paul Renaud and an interesting take on Greek Gods living in modern times by writer Doug Murray, “Athena” comes across as a decent book.  Unfortunately, it has the bad luck to drop during the same week as new issues of “Greek Street” and Marvel’s Hercules crossover “Assault on Olympus”.  It’s not a bad book, but it’s contending against some superlative books trafficking in similar material.

Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys #3 (Dynamite; by Troy):  Joe Casey writes and Carlos Paul draws this fun throwndown between strongman Samson and his demonic seaborne antagonist Dagon.  The giant monster bears a passing resemblance to Gamera’s enemy Guiron, and that’s fine by me.  While the surface here is all about monster-fighting, there  are some interesting side-notes about Samson’s “vision” of reality and the nature of faith.

Greek Street #5 (Vertigo; by Troy):  “Book One” concludes as a character dies, other significant leads get together for the first time, and fate continues on its (likely, tragic) way.  David Gianfelice’s art still reminds me of Eduardo Risso’s (in good ways), but it still retains its own distinct style.  Writer Peter Milligan continues seamless assimilation of the mythic cast into a noir universe.  Honestly, I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Sweet Tooth #3 (Vertigo; by Troy):  Jeff Lemire’s fascinating apocalyptic vision continues as “Sweet Tooth” Gus and his injured companion try to make their way in the plague-ravaged world.  Things take a surreal turn when Gus dreams about “Dandy”, the lead fawn of a familiar children’s book well-worn territory with a fresh outlook.  Definitely worth a look.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #1 (Vertigo; by Troy):  I’ve always liked the representation of Cinderella as a spy in the core “Fables” title.  I must not be alone, as Cindy gets a mini-series devoted to her exploits.  Shawn McManus draws it all with Buckingham-like aplomb while writer Chris Roberson exercises intrigue and wit.  You really should be conversant with the status quo of “Fables” before you pick this up, but the Fable-faithful will certainly enjoy it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #30 (Dark Horse; by Troy):  Twists abound as Buffy and her army clash with the military forces amassed by Twilight.  Unfortunately, the goddesses that Buffy’s group summoned are running amok, and Buffy needs to venture into the battlefield on behalf of a well-kept secret.  Things look pretty dire by issue’s end, but there’s still time for a final surprise.  Writer Jane Espenson clearly knows the cast and their voices, and Georges Jeanty draws it for all its worth.  It’s safe to say at this point that I have no idea where it’s all going, and that’s actually a great thing.

Ultimate Spider-Man #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): Still the best Spider-Man book on the stands. Aside from a slightly too-long scene with the Human Torch, this is Bendis at his most economical, giving us just the right amount of dialogue to make us care for his three leads. David Lafuente is getting better than ever with both his expressions -- a scene with MJ, Peter, and Gwen is easily the highlight of the book -- but the fight sequences just rock. It's as if Frank Cho and John Romita Jr. had a love child, aided superbly by the brighter colors of Justin Ponsor. At any rate, all of Bendis' threads are starting to draw together -- this book is definitely not one to miss.

Nova #31 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): This is an issue that won't get enough credit, but Nova and Darkhawk settling their differences leads to some great moments in an indescribably old-school style. Both characters have grown a lot since the New Warriors, and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning make that friction work great. Andrea DiVito really steals the show, however, with some really clean linework and stellar composition -- this guy was born to draw Darkhawk. This is the first I've seen of colorist Bruno Hang, but he brings the goods, making DiVito's work pop. I've never been a heavy Marvel Cosmic reader, but with work like this, I just might convert.

Deathlok #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): While I applaud Marvel for trying to come up with a new milleau for Deathlok, this first issue is a bit disappointing. Charlie Huston has a frenetic, Murderball-style vibe, and despite some moments of pure black comedy, this first part of the origin story goes way too long. The jury's still out on Lan Medina -- he certainly has the violence down, but the faces look too similar to distinguish, and everything looks a little too polished and shiny for my tastes. I'm not ruling this series out yet, but consider this issue a victim of decompresssed storytelling.

The Unknown: Devil Made Flesh #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by David Pepose): Considering there's no wider investment in the franchise past the first miniseries, Mark Waid is hitting a home run in making us care for terminally-ill detective Catherine Allingham. The strong female lead and detective angle is not unlike Greg Rucka, but Waid adds in a nice degree of snark that makes it his own. Artwise, Minick Oosterveer is like Rick Burchett with hints of Tim Sale and Jeff Lemire -- he really gives Catherine her own personality, and at the end really puts pedal to metal in terms of ramping up the action. I don't know if new readers can come in cold to this issue, but it's some quality detective storytelling with a paranormal twist. 

Stumptown #1 (Published by Oni Press; Review by David Pepose): What would happen if Greg Rucka was writing Scalped? It'd probably turn into Stumptown, a mystery in a sleepy Oregon town that has its fair share of bad apples. Greg Rucka spends much of this issue building out the character of Dex, whose gambling problem and smart-aleckyness are balanced by her devotion to her brother and the girl she's tracking. Matthew Southworth has a scratchy, shadowy vibe that further draws the Scalped comparison, but it's much cleaner, and helps give Dex an impish charm. The end of the issue further subverts cliche, as Rucka leaves a lasting impression for this series's opening issue.

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