Best Shots Rapid Fire Reviews: BOOSTER GOLD, TOY STORY

Best Shots Rapid Fire: BOOSTER GOLD

Best Shots: Rapid Fire 12-10-09

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Booster Gold #27

DC Comics

Written by Dan Jurgens

Pencils by Mike Norton and Dan Jurgens

Inks by Norm Rapmund

Colors by Hi-Fi

Letters by Jared K. Fletcher

Cover by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

Review by Russ Burlingame

For everything that didn’t happen last month, there’s about ten things that did happen in Booster Gold #27. There is, of course, a throwaway panel that will be the subject of most or all discussion of this comic, but for today we’ll just deal in the absolutes; it’s an exciting issue, and an entertaining one. While the “secret weapon” used to do away with Black Lantern Ted Kord is exactly what I expected it to be (and so not all that effective as a secret, at least to readers), it was satisfying on a karmic level and made perfect sense; one has to wonder if, months ago, Jurgens and Johns were actually thinking about this sequence when the “Beetlecave” was reintroduced at the end of “Blue and the Gold.”

The script is clever, emotionally honest and makes complete sense along with the rest of the “Blackest Night” material, which is a huge plus considering the history that DC has with “red sky crossovers” that just come out of nowhere and lead to nothing. Jurgens’ art is pitch-perfect (as it usually is on this title) and while Mike Norton has handled the transition between Jaime Reyes’ backup feature and the main story with Booster and company well, it still kills me that in a “Blackest Night” tie-in he only very rarely manages to draw the Black Lantern ring on Ted’s finger (he missed it completely last issue). It’s a small thing, but it takes me a little out of the story, especially when the ring is such an important plot element in this issue.

While Booster and Skeets might not have a huge impact in the final outcome of “Blackest Night,” I think it’s clear that the biggest story beats (revealed in the last ten pages of the book, in separate scenes) are ones that Booster will be chasing over the next year or so. With so much dealt with, and so much set up—so much action and so much emotion—this is one of the two or three best issues of what is already one of the best superhero comics on the market.

Adventure Comics #5

DC Comics

Written by Geoff Johns & Sterling Gates

Pencils by Jerry Ordway & Francis Manapul

Inks by Bob Wiacek & Jerry Ordway

Colors by Brian Buccellato

Letters by Ken Lopez

Covers by Jerry Ordway & Francis Manapul

Review by Russ Burlingame

Man, this is a tough month for the Second Features.

For some of the titles given second features, it’s always seemed as though it was done to mutually assist both groups—the characters in the backup maybe couldn’t support their own book, and the characters in the front? Well, those were the guys whose books would be fine as long as a bad fill-in arc or finicky readership didn’t suddenly leave them high and dry.

Enter “Blackest Night.” Suddenly books like Doom Patrol and Adventure Comics have a lead feature that ties into comics’ hottest and best-selling crossover, while their backup features involve…well…

…Conner Kent spent almost ten pages hassling a girl in Smallville because she vandalized a doctor’s office. Then he flew her home, all the while explaining that while the conventions of storytelling dictate that they should be together, it can’t work because in another comic, there’s a plot beat that someone may or may not ever pick up again that revolves around his having a relationship with Wonder Girl. Also, in spite of what you all might have heard (in “Blackest Night” #5), Superboy is alive and well and not at all a Black Lantern.

There’s a nice twist at the end of the story that makes you feel like the Smallville part of the tale is finally moving in a coherent direction, but it’s not enough to really pull me in; the Superboy-Luthor connection has always nagged at me as having been one of the more “tacked-on” elements of Geoff Johns’ stellar run on “Teen Titans,” actually, and the story has to be really great to justify all this “What would Lex Luthor do?” stuff in the narration boxes.

Back on Earth-Prime, though, our main story features Superboy Prime rampaging through the DC Comics offices, demanding that they leave him alone and stop writing him as a villain. It’s the first really compelling argument the character has made since turning evil; all of his childish tirades have been pretty nonsensical and one-dimensionally self-serving, but the realization that he hates himself for what he’s become, and that he doesn’t want to be this way, is an interesting direction for the character. Also, it gives us the “Red Lantern Superboy Prime” image that’s seen on one of the variant covers. Don’t worry, that’s not where they leave it; the character instead gets the kind of twist ending that leaves you hoping he’ll stay out of the rest of “Blackest Night” but reasonably sure he won’t.

Ordway’s art is terrific on Superboy and on the DC editorial staff, and the whole romp through the offices really harkens back to some of the old Silver Age stories where Julie Schwartz and Stan Lee would interact with the characters. That said, after an issue and a half of admiring his work, I’m left a little cold by his depiction of the Black Lanterns. I think that the reality is, it calls for a more gruesome touch than Ordway has in his repertoire; his zombies are all kind of generic, yellow-skinned versions of themselves, as opposed to the stylized and really frightening depictions of them we’ve seen in books like  “Doom Patrol,” “Booster Gold” and “Blackest Night” itself.

Nation X One-Shot (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): It looks like Marvel has been continuing to learn from its anthology series, because while it's not exactly essential reading, this Nation X one-shot is exceedingly entertaining. Simon Spurrier and Leonard Kirk open the issue out with a bang, with a nice team-up of Magneto and the Young X-Men that highlights the issues with Utopia in the same way that many writers opposed the Registration movement in Civil War. The biggest surprise is seeing Mike Allred draw a Wolverine/Nightcrawler road trip, which is probably the high point of the whole book. In fact, across the board the art is strong, which is high praise considering that this is a spin-off anthology -- if there's one problem I have with it, though, it's the fact that, at the end of the day, all these stories have a similar tone in terms of their message. Still, this is a great look with a unique visual style at how the X-Men are reacting to their new situation.

Toy Story #0 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by David Pepose): There are those that would dismiss this book as "just a kid's book." And that's a shame, because this is probably the smartest take on a so-called "kid's" franchise that I've ever seen. You wouldn't think it based on his previous horror-centric work, but Jesse Blaze Snider actually crafts a really touching story by touching upon something comics and toy collectors know all too well: duplicates. Snider really illustrates the stakes well -- if you were a toy, wouldn't the idea of being returned be the worst thing that could happen to you? He's also got a great sense of comedy for the adults, with just a few sail-over-the-head jokes that would do Pixar proud. The only possible hurdle is the art by Nathan Wilson and Mickey Clausen -- for those who read BOOM! Studios' earlier Toy Story mini, you're used to it, but the cool color scheme and not-quite-as-nuanced expressions are a little jarring when set against people's memories of the original films. Either way, as far as first impressions go, this looks like a great launchpad for a surprisingly deep book.

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