Greeting ‘Rama Readers! Pierce Lydon here! Our fearless leader, David Pepose, is on a fact-finding mission through the Delta Quadrant today so I’m holding down the fort. They say the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool. Seeing as how I so supremely fit the bill, I’ll kick things off with a look at DC’s Justice League Odyssey #1
Justice League Odyssey #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10) When the initial preview images came out and we saw the lineup for Odyssey it was anyone’s guess how they were going to fit together. But Josh Williamson does a pretty good job of making it clearer coming out of the resolution of Justice League: No Justice. The most impressive work Williamson does here is with his characters. Jessica Cruz, Cyborg and Starfire all feel really authentic and their dynamic is fun to read. Azarel is a weird addition to the cast but he’s got a wildcard quality to him that look to make the future fun for this squad. And Darkseid is larger than life and a character that’s hard to trust. Williamson gives us just a glimpse of him and it should be enough to hook readers for at least the first arc. Stjepan Sejic’s art really underlines the character work that Willaimson is doing but he does come across as somewhat inconsistent. There’s a marked difference in his linework at certain points where it comes across as oddly sketchy while the coloring looks quite intentional and put together. I think it works overall but certain pages definitely have a more completel feel than others. All in all, Odyssey is a surprisingly solid debut.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10) So, what do the people of New York think of the Spectacular Spider-Man? It’s not a brand-new question, but Chip Zdarsky finishes his run (one of the webswinger’s best) by writing and drawing an especially poignant take. One that’s demonstrative of how well he can manage multiple tones, while retaining a consistent aesthetic sense with regards to his cartooning. People give their thoughts on Spidey directly to camera –– and because it’s from Zdarsky, of course the first character asked think that he’s a weirdo –– before cutting to a sequence where he thwarts a couple of robbers. Only there’s more to the story than just that. As the issue continues, Zdarsky returns to the vox-pop style interviews intermittently, using them as interludes between larger sequences. Both of these aspects work in service of building up a network narrative –– all in a concise, traditional single-issue. Complete with a wordless sequence that lands an emotional gut-punch through the art alone, a result of Zdarsky laying the groundwork prior, he has such a clearly understandable sense of who Spidey is and it’s all the more powerful as a final statement for him knowing when he doesn’t have to say anything.
Heroes In Crisis #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 2 out of 10): Tom King’s Heroes in Crisis has been hyped for months but can the story live up to the weight of expectations? Unfortunately, the answer is no. King has made his name on stories about the human psyche viewed through a superhero lens but Heroes in Crisis has none of the subtlety or style of his best work. Instead, it’s gratuitous depictions of death and violence fly in the face of some of the pitch for the book - namely, that Sanctuary is something of a trauma center for heroes. It’s necessary to put characters through the wringer to create conflict in a story but King’s work here feels calculated and voyeuristic in all the worst ways. And Clay Mann’s work really backs that up. Mann is a talented draftsman and it’s clear that he’s got chops but his characters are emotionless even in moments when they need to be showing the most emotion. Heroes in Crisis is a bleak and joyless debut that will leave readers wondering why they should come back for more.
Glorious Wrestling Apocalypse (Published by Josh Hicks; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating 9 out of 10): Cartoonist and zinester Josh Hicks returns with the third installment of his delightfully weird take on the wrestling industry, Glorious Wrestling Apocalypse. The Lovett family and the Glorious Wrestling Alliance are facing some hard times, daddy, and when the going gets tough, the tough … well, some of them literally get going. Hicks has created a world full of unforgettable characters that takes on some of the wrestling industry’s weirdest carny quirks with an irresistible charm. The monochromatic palette and bold, clean lines leave a lot of room for visual gags that might get lost amid busier visuals, and Hicks packs a lot into each six-panel layout. It’s helpful to check out the previous two installments of GWA prior to reading this one, but if you’re a newcomer, Hicks offers just enough details to easily get you up to speed. Whether you’re a wrestling fan or not, you’ll have a blast with this one. It’s available in print through Hicks’ website.
Extermination #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon, ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): This event has quickly come into its own as a pulse-pounding conclusion to the story of the Original Five X-Men. This is pure action comics as the X-Men are scrambling to protect the younger members among them from the clutches of Ahab and his mutant hounds. Problem is, they can’t seem to get the upper hand. Writer Ed Brisson never lets the action waver and that’s hugely important with a story with this many moving parts - it’s fun because it’s fast and that makes the stakes feel higher. He’s backed up by what might possibly be Pepe Larraz’ best Marvel work todate. Larraz’ characters are on point, his action beats absolutely sing and the work feels weighty in a way we’ve missed from X-Men comics lately. There are only two issues left and it's anyone’s guess how this one ends. X-Men fans new, old and lapsed need to be checking out Extermination. Brisson and Larraz have made the X-Men exciting again.
Man-Eaters #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10) That this issue marks the reunion of Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna –– formerly of the whip-smart and abruptly cut-short Mockingbird –– should be clear from the opening page; a playful infographic on big cat attacks. These kinds of attacks –– connected to menstruation and a disease –– are common enough that there’s a task force in place to handle them; in fact, the dad of Maude is part of one. She narrates much of this first chapter, providing extensive detail about how the world got to this point, the direction of the entwined personal and political story being blunt though deliberately so. Coupled with an art style that can serve sight gags as well as horror-orientated pages, this should be a home run, only it falters when it comes to how much actual narrative is on the page. Maude accompanies the audience through much of the issue without the issue properly delving into who she is. Based on the ending, that’s probably to come, just it causes this reads as more of a conceptual pitch. It’s a hell of a story hook, but nothing further; piquing curiosity, without properly sinking its claws in.
Spider-Geddon #0 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Don’t call it the Spider-Verse... or maybe you should? Spider-Geddon’s core gimmick is pretty much exactly the same as it’s multiverse-spanning, spider-event predecessor so if you weren’t onboard for that, this issue will do little to win you over. However, if you finished PS4’s Spider-Man game and wanted more of that world, this is a fun little return. Christos Gage bounces that Peter Parker off the much more serious Superior Spider-Man effectively and while this issue isn’t a world beater, it’s not a bad read. Clayton Crain’s digitally-tinged artwork is a good fit for a world we’ve only seen as a video game, though there’s a certain sheen to it that almost makes it feel more static at times than it should. A back-up story by Jed McKAy and Javier Garron probably does a little more to push Spider-Geddon’s plot forward but this one is pretty much as advertised - a somewhat plodding, multiversal Spider adventure.