Best Shots: Rapid Fire 12-4-09
Brought to you by Newsarama's Best Shots team and Shotgunreviews.com
Your Host: David Pepose
Howdy, gentle readers, your friendly neighborhood David Pepose taking over for Troy Brownfield today! But don't fret, you're still in good hands, as your Best Shots team is still hitting fast and furious with the reviews -- so let's take a look, shall we? As always, you can check out all our earlier columns and extras on our Best Shots Topic page.
Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 (DC; Review By Troy Brownfield): For the first of a three issue mini-series, this book was remarkably self contained. Greg Rucka is no stranger to the voice of Diana, Princess of the Amazons, and jumps directly back into her decidedly noble worldview in this issue, a characteristic he played up considerably during his run as her ongoing writer. With Black Lantern Max Lord (and a few hundred of his closest friends) to contend with, you'd think we'd see anger, fear, and more from Diana, but she stays consumed with Love. Distilling her character to this central theme is something few writers can pull off, and Rucka does it well. However, the issue, a mostly complete little story on its own, felt almost like half an issue, with a little too much time spent on her internal monologue. Nicola Scott's artwork is exactly what you'd expect -- spectacular. She continues to show why she's one of the best in the business with an equal amount of excitement and dynamic storytelling during single-character introspective scenes and action packed fights. This is almost more of a book for Wonder Woman fans than for Blackest Night completists, oddly enough, though the teaser for issue 2 shows this mini will likely wind up tied much closer to the main title from here on out.
Dark Avengers Annual #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kevin Huxford): A Marvel Boy focused issue and Bachalo artwork are welcome treats here. While there are background and dialogue bits that Bendis drags out a little too long, they don't detract from the overall quality of the story, which is easily better than most annual done-in-ones tend to be. The choices by the colorist here really seemed to make the artwork pop. Definitely a welcome addition to the haul this week, and Avengers fans, make sure you check out those last couple of story pages for an interesting surprise/tease.
Deadpool Team-Up #898 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): And the Deadpool gravy train makes another stop. A few months back, I complained about an issue of Deadpool, saying that a cannibal story arc didn't match the tone of artist Carlo Barberi. This arc is the opposite -- it's a goofy tale of merc versus luchador, and it's actually fairly understated work by Mike Bensen. There's even a bit of Tarantino flair to it all, as the Zapata Brothers snipe at one another over the benefits of the Blackberry versus the iPhone, and a donkey steed provides some Kevin Smith-level of sophomoric humor. The action also looks great and fluid, but it's when the team-up actually occurs that the story really picks up on charm. Overall, it may be disposable, but if you're one of those Deadpool diehards who buys all these books, this won't disappoint.
Jonah Hex #50 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Troy Brownfield): Palmiotti and Gray come through again with another hard-hearted Hex tale. This one is particularly affecting, as it relates a huge turning point in the relationship between Hex and Tallulah Black. Brilliantly drawn by guest artist Darwyn Cooke, the issue is harrowing, violent, and deeply, deeply sad. This has been a rock-solid book from the very beginning, but this may be the best issue of the series overall. Kudos to all involved.
JSA All Stars #1 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Kevin Huxford): I went into this issue with low expectations and still wound up a bit disappointed. Matt Sturges seems to be way off on the voices of the characters and Freddie Williams II, while an artist I appreciate, seems to be an ill-fit for a team book (or at least this one). The issue has room for two poorly scripted and long fight scenes, but has to cram in some of the quieter scenes so that they're not entirely clear (is one character legitimately crushing on another?) and just as poorly written as the action scenes ("of Awesomeness!").
Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #2 (Published by Vertigo; Review by David Pepose): Two issues in, and this book continues to keep up its own inimitable charm. Writer Chris Roberson makes Cinderella a great protagonist, with hints of Buffy and even James Bond all rolled into one, and giving her a devil-may-care partner in the form of Aladdin gives a nice edge to the book. Artist Shawn McManus is an interesting case -- his action sometimes feels a little off, but his expressions all look great. This series, in a lot of ways, has the same sort of freshness that the original Fables series had when it first started -- taking pieces of myths and legends and merging them with popular genres like espionage and mysteries.
28 Days Later #4 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by David Pepose): Needless to say, I sure didn't see that one coming. Michael Alan Nelson really rocks the boat (literally and metaphorically) in this issue, and sets up a worrisome status quo for first film survivor Selina and the pack of journalists she has chosen to lead to infected England. Declan Shalvey also shows a nice bit of range in this piece, with a distance shot of a shell-shocked Selina looking particularly powerful. Just like any good zombie franchise, the only threat bigger than the Infected is human nature, and Nelson really raises the stakes with some good character moments. Apparently, even a breather is still murder for 28 Days Later, as it continues to impress.
Beasts of Burden #3 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Troy Brownfield): Dorkin and Thompson's tale of animal supernatural investigators heads for the sewer this time. Literally. It's a tight, suspensful adventure that manages to capitalize on smart characterization, various iterations of the concept (particularly in terms of the rat antagonists), and Thompson's outstanding art. There's a bit of Stephen King lurking in the hidden menace, and that's fine by me. Dorkin and Thompson deserve praise for giving us something that feels like a totally new concept amid the rather crowded field of comic-book paranormal investigators.
What If... Secret Invasion (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): Nice-looking art, but kind of an anemic story. Pow Rodrix and Frank Martin give a look that has hints of Coipel, McNiven, and McGuinness, with a very rich sense of color. The problem is that few of the characters ever get past cameo status -- and the plot gets so convoluted that pretty much all of the characterization and explanation is lost. Friends die, traitors are revealed, and the problem is, no one really ever gives a good reason why. Unless a Thor versus Sentry fight is enough to get you to buy a book, this book isn't exactly one that grabs you.
Starr the Slayer #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): It's juvenile, it's goofy, yet I enjoyed the holy hell out of this book. Oftentimes it feels like a mean joke on both Conan the Barbarian and Frank Miller, yet the humor comes so out of left field for the played-straight artwork that this is certainly a... well, "unique" doesn't quite cover it. In today's marketplace, it's almost assured that Daniel Way and Richard Corben will not get the love they deserve on this book, which is too bad -- even someone who hasn't read the first three issues (like, er, me) will have something to enjoy in this wacked-out parody.
In Case You Missed It...
The Web #3 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): Superheroics isn't just altruism -- it's a business, and that's what the Web is all about. Roger Robinson is clearly the hero of this piece -- his art is expressive and moody, and manages to differentiate the numerous "Web Hosts" that our hero employs to great effect. (His work on the new Batgirl is also impressive, as it's probably the best look at that black-and-purple suit yet.) Writer Angela Robinson, to her credit, really stretches herself with the ideas -- forcing Oracle to business negotations was a fun idea, and the use of social networking and crowdsourcing, while a little convenient, fits the character, and is certainly something I haven't seen in comics before. If there's one thing this book could work on, it's the teamwork between writer and artist -- at times, I think Angela overpacked some pages, which kept Roger from leveraging his strengths. If the team can keep showing how the Web is different than the rest of the pack -- while simultaneously coming to an arrangement that fits both creators' styles -- this is a book with some potential.