Greetings ‘Rama Readers! Pierce Lydon here filling in once again for the Dastardly David Pepose. It’s been a long week but we’re almost through it. We’ve got a number of rapid fire reviews for you from across the comic book publishing landscape and we’ll start you off with a look at one of this week’s biggest releases - Menacing Matthew Sibley takes on War of the Realms #3.
War of the Realms #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10) While this event is a capstone to Jason Aaron’s long-standing Thor run, an underrated quality of War of the Realms is how much of a rollicking good time it is even if you haven’t been following along since he started writing the character back in 2012. “The Quest for Thor” sees Captain America among many others travel to Jotunheim in search of the Norse God, in the hopes he’ll be able to turn the tide against Malekith’s forces, now that Earth’s been turned into New Midgard. Meanwhile, various other factions do their best to disrupt the Dark Elf’s intentions. Seeing Cap with an axe and Daredevil as the God Without Fear are qualities which best exemplify what universe-spanning crossovers can bring to the table. The scale of the conflict is apparent from the omniscient, fantastical narration, which binds the threads together, and supplements Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson’s sublime and equally fantastical artwork. Panels are constantly askew on the page, a decision that shows the pair’s formal control on the material – the world is in constant threat of being turned upside down, but the best of the Marvel Universe will be damned before they let that happen.
Fallen World #1 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Valiant Entertainment delivers another blockbuster in the debut of Fallen World. Standing as both a well-researched sequel to their massive 4001 A.D. AND a reader-friendly standalone event limited series, writer Dan Abnett threads the needle shockingly well. It has been a year since New Japan fell to the ruined Earth below, and now various Valiant stars like Rai, the Eternal Warrior, and Bloodshot are attempting to move on. But the despotic A.I. Father has other plans. Though not nearly as action-heavy as one would expect from the start of a Valiant event, Abnett builds an instantly engaging world, giving readers context for the past and their present in a briskly paced opening script. Artists Adam Pollina and Ulises Arreola aren’t given much to do aside from establish the titular Fallen World with vast, barren landscapes and independent futuristic crashed cities, but they give us a great idea of the world of this event. Just with slight teases of the incoming action.
Goosebumps: Horrors of the Witch House #1 (Published by IDW; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating 7 out of 10): Much like the comic’s story, Goosebumps: Horrors of the Witch House #1 is full of odd choices, most of which are compounded by the character designs; they’re overall fairly cute and lively, but the pinpoint pupils make every character come off as a little unsettling and nefarious, from the three young protagonists to the titular witch. The designs make every line of dialogue feel a little sarcastic, which in turn adds a weird undercurrent to making the presumptive antagonist the “youngest woman in Silicon Valley to become a millionaire.” It’s this design choice that causes the most issues for Horrors of the Witch House #1, which is otherwise alright; writers Denton J. Tipton and Matthew Dow Smith have an excellent grasp of the rhythm and set-up that make a Goosebumps book tick, and aside from the eyes, Chris Fenoglio and Valentina Pinto’s art and colors are perfect for a scary story geared towards young readers. This debut issue drags somewhat, though -- it’s not a particularly compelling debut, but could be fun to binge-read once more issues have hit the stands.
The Green Lantern #7 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10) Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern has been a special kind of bizarre and this issue is no different. Unfortunately, the compelling high concept about a doomed city within the power rings is brought down by Morrison’s overindulgent prose and a rare off day for letterer Tom Orzechowski. But Liam Sharp pulls this one through. Maybe more than any of his other DC work over the last few years, Hal Jordan and his space-capades seem to suit Sharp’s gritty but still fluid style. And despite the out there narrative and odd lettering choices, Morrison gives Sharp some great moments to draw and the creative team gives us a much different flavor of Green Lantern story than we’re used to.
Uncanny X-Men #17 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10) Matthew Rosenberg’s tenure as Uncanny X-Men’s sole writer started with a caption that read “Every X-Men story is the same” before launching into a grief-stricken tale. In the sense that they’re always fighting for survival and never seem to be near the end of the struggle, that statement rings true. This issue is about Rahne’s funeral and what Logan opts to do over attending, culminating in the reveal of what led to her demise. The ideas within Rosenberg’s narrative commit to building an atmosphere of hopelessness, no-one would be at fault for finding it too oppressive a mood to endure considering the reveal’s harmful allegory. Another factor of the run that’s been true throughout is that the art has been lacking and unbefitting of a supposed flagship title. Subbing in for Salvador Larocca here is Carlos Gómez, whose work consists of 90s-reminiscent muscles, askew perspective and wonky anatomy, and to be honest, is no better. Up until now the art has been what’s primarily held Rosenberg’s run back from achieving its true potential, though in the case of this issue specifically, the greater fault it with the swing-and-a-miss major story decision, one where the implications appear to have not been properly considered.
Transformers #4 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): IDW dense reboot of the Transformers franchise with the fourth installment of “The World in Your Eyes”. Author Brian Ruckley is juggling a lot of plots here. On one hand we have the murder of Brainstorm, which dominates the spotlight this month. These scenes provide the issue it’s most propulsive plot, led by fan favorite character Windblade. But it is the ideological based plot back on Iacon that seems to be dragging a bit. Since this is pre-Decepticons and Autobots era Cybertron, Ruckley is having to establish the “order of the day” as it were and it might be time to clear the decks on it. The triple threat art team of Sara Pitre-Durocher, Angel Hernandez, and Andrew Griffith at least make it look shiny, thanks to blocky, but expressive character models and out there sci-fi stage settings. Transformers #4 might stand up better during a binge read, but there is still good stuff happening during this “Bold New Era” of IDW Transformers
Midas TPB (Published by BOOM! Box; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating 9 out of 10): Midas is a thrilling retelling of the Midas myth, taking it to its most unsettling extreme -- what if everything that Midas turned to gold could turn everything to gold too? In an alternate universe where one ill-conceived wish has turned Earth into a gilded graveyard kept secret by an interstellar empire, a scrappy team of rogues hunt down the “weapon” that caused Earth’s instantaneous destruction in hopes of empowering a floundering resistance. Written by Ryan North and illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, Midas is an exhilarating sci-fi adventure rife with North’s trademark humor and gorgeously illustrated action sequences from Paroline and Lamb. The trade, out this week from BOOM!, collects all eight issues of the series, and it’s a fantastic and younger-reader friendly collection perfect for anyone who loves the weirder side of sci-fi.
Batman #70 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10) Bravo to Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes for delivering a real page turner. This is probably the best that Janin’s work has ever looked and even the transition from him to fornes’ more David Mazzuchelli-inspired lines and inks works well for the book. I’ll give a lot of the credit to colorist Jordie Bellaire for using color to not only highlight each artist’s strengths but also create some scene separation with different color palettes that really help readers feel how unrelenting Batman is as he plows through his rogues gallery. As for Tom King’s script, it almost feels secondary as his artistic collaborators really pull this one through. This feels like the start of a really incendiary arc.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #7 (Published by Titan Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The Doctor and her “Fam” are hot on the trail of Stilean Flesh Eaters in Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #7! Making use of the great tradition of “overarching” serialized plotting in Doctor Who, this seventh issue finds writert Jody Houser building out more of her plots, including the Eaters’ silent invasion of time and a mysterious podcast that seems to be predicting the Doctor’s travels (not that she’s jealous or anything). Obviously, this stuff will pop a bit more if you’ve kept up with her run, but Houser still provides enough context for this to be a fun blind buy. Artists Roberta Ingranata and Enrica Eren Angiolini effortlessly capture the actor’s charm and fun on the page, even though they are trodding through a murky, fog-dense swamp. Though a great example of the kind of serialization afforded by Doctor Who, this seventh installment still offers a great adaptation for those who simply want to see this cast in action again in the wake of their debut season.