Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has you covered with this week’s Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick off with Masterful Matthew Sibley, who takes a look at the newest issue featuring that symbiote from the silver screen, Venom...
Venom #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In the wake of an intense first arc, writer Donny Cates quickly finds up a way to further up the ante in a delightfully surprising fashion. The successful execution of this issue’s early reveal is largely down to letterer Clayton Cowles, whose lettering should clue the audience into the sense that something’s up without giving it away before everyone’s ready to tell. Eddie Brock finds himself trapped in a chair, being monologued to by a figure draped in the shadow cast, in a sterile interrogation room, filling him in about what’s occurred between the last issue’s ending and now. Their tale already contains a number of calculatedly placed revelations, but most impressive is how the creative team opt to reveal who’s talking early on over leaving it for the issue’s final page. Iban Coello and Andres Mossa gradually pull away the veil of mystique, the lean into the claustrophobic nature of the confinement once the two participants are face to face. During the first arc, it was difficult to see how Venom could sustain itself as a lengthy run, but this issue promises Cates’ ideas about Eddie and the symbiotes have even larger aspirations.
Catwoman #4 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Recapping the story of Maggie Kyle, Catwoman #4 is in direct conversation with previous runs, most notably the one written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Darwyn Cooke (among others). Joelle Jones enlists the help of Fernando Blanco and John Kalisz in order to provide an artistic juxtaposition between the past and the present. The styles mesh well in this approach – Jones and Laura Allred’s art has a softer touch to it, while Blanco and Kalisz make use of heavier inks and lines. The latter pair avoid falling into shameless pastiche of Cooke’s work, with a couple of pages that play as more of a homage to Francesco Francavilla over anyone else. As usual, the art is the aspect of the book most worthy of discussion, due to the narrative’s relaxed pacing. What’s most important is not what Catwoman is about, but how Jones and her collaborators go about go about conveying that. The series operates as a mood piece, not a casualty of decompression, even if will likely read better when collected. This isn’t to say the story couldn’t be meatier, only it begs the question of if that extra weight would work against the series’ gracefulness.
X-Men Black: Mojo #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10) Ah Mojo, everyone’s favorite hunk of old cheese rolled in broken coffeemakers. We’ve seen him try to profit off the X-Men but Comedy Bang Bang’s Scott Aukerman and artists Nick Bradshaw and Andre Lima Araujo ask a more important question: can Mojo learn to love? As a premise the whole thing feels kind of slight, but juxtaposing Mojo with Glob Herman is fun. Aukerman uses Glob to show Mojo that the world isn’t as terrible as it seems which leads to a bit of a heroic turn for Ol’ Spider Leg Chair. Bradshaw and Araujo’s team-up on the art is fairly seamless across the board, though fans of either artist aren’t getting them at full strength. Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson’s back-up story continues and remains an intriguing look at Apocalypse. Serious X-fans will find more to like in this than more casual readers, but this series of one-shots has been a fun way to get some unexpected stories out of this corner of the X-Universe.
Red Hood: Outlaw #27 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): What would likely be considered boilerplate is elevated thanks to some stellar production values in Red Hood: Outlaw #27. Feeling similar in tone to last issue, Scott Lobdell and Pete Woods show the newly redesigned Jason Todd as he continues his quest across the country — and it’s to both the creators’ credits that they don’t even have to show the new costume to get readers hooked. This may be my favorite thing from Scott Lobdell since his days on the X-Men books — he juggles action and emotion swiftly, as Jason learns of the death of one of his closest friends. (And to shake things up a bit, Lobdell doesn’t succumb to maudlin instincts — his Jason is genre-savvy enough to experience surprise and sadness without it consuming his character entirely.) But Pete Woods really sells this book — while his colors feel just a touch bright this issue, he’s really excelling with the way he’s composing his panels for maximum emotion, particularly when Jason shares a hug with an old friend. This series isn’t usually one for me, but as long as the creative team keeps swinging for the fences, this is an era of Red Hood you shouldn’t miss.
Immortal Hulk #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): One satisfaction that Immortal Hulk continually delivers on is a direct result of how writer Al Ewing writes distinct issues. There’s clearly a larger plan at play, and each installment works towards this without just promising the good stuff is on its way. This approach has also meant that issues stand out. Case in point, Immortal Hulk #7 will be known as the issue where the Avengers try to stop the Hulk, with “try” being the operative word in that statement. It’s not hard to imagine how well their attempt goes considering how Joe Bennett, Ruy José and Paul Mounts have previously illustrated the Hulk’s power. The first glimpse of the fight sees Thor lose a tooth, the sheer strength that causes it to fly from his mouth is enough to put him in a daze. There’s more to the issue than just the brawl, as the aftermath and a brief conversation between Captain America and Thor drive home the grotesque, destructive force that’s barely contained by Bennett’s panelling. In fact, the panels struggle to stay level on the page and it all leads to a penultimate page where the proceedings have been turned on their head, the dynamic shaken up once more.