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 Jealousy-Inducing Justin Partridge, who takes a look at House of X...
House of X #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): One of the X-Men’s oldest allies receives a massive reimagining as House of X continues. Focusing on the 'secret History' of Moira MacTaggert, Jonathan Hickman continues to build out his massive reboot of the X-Men beyond their nation-state. What he supposes this time is that Moira has always been a mutant, throughout her complicated and death-filled history, turning her reincarnation powers to helping the mutant cause by any means necessary. It is ambitious for sure, but Hickman has carefully plotted Moira’s pathway through X-history (complete with a gorgeous, clue-filled graph at the end of the issue). Detailing that path is Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, both of whom continue to impress with the expansive new series. Larraz’s pencils nail the action and scope needed for a large scale X-Men event comic book while Gracia’s scorching colors give it the sheen so sorely missed from the line. It has kind of become rote at this point, but believe the hype, House of X continues to be the real deal.
Justice League #29 (Published by DC; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10) Sure, some of the passages are little bit long-winded. And yes, this issue serves to essentially be a recap primer before a big event. But you know what? Jarro is a lot of fun and he works as a really effective POV character to get us all of this exposition. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV are able to lay out big plot points of the last couple of years while indulging some of Jarro’s fantasies and it makes for a funny, heartfelt break from the usual big picture plot machinations we get in Justice League. Artist Bruno Redondo really shows up for this issue, too. He takes every ridiculous plot point extremely seriously and that’s what makes it work. By not skimping on the details, he’s able to sell the emotion and impending doom in the script. Never once does this undermine what came before or what’s coming next. It allows readers to take a breath. Every once in a while, we need a Jarro to remind us not to take all this comic book stuff so seriously. They’re called the funnybooks for a reason.
Coffin Bound #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Coffin Bound #1 tells a supernatural-meets-post-apocalyptic story of Izzy, a woman seeking to find her own way in this world with an unstoppable bounty hunter hot on her heels. Writer Dan Watters’ larger story feels familiar with its single protagonist fighting against a world out to get her while the details in the execution take a few unexpected turns, which helped keep things fresh. There were times when the dialogue came off a bit stilted and overly formal given the story’s rougher tone and faster pace, but the gritty visuals and action movie pacing from Dani and colorist Brad Simpson proved compelling throughout.
Future Foundation #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The (other) FF returns in the breezy and big reboot of the Future Foundation. Helmed by The Unstoppable Wasp’s Jeremy Whitley, this new incarnation of the Foundation finds the Power siblings, Julie and Alex, leading the FF through a prison break. One that will hopefully get them closer to rebuilding their friend the Molecule Man. Whitley’s knack for charming characters is back in full force here, this time spread around the ensemble, giving each member a distinctly fun personality. Tempering the characterization is a whole heap of action, also displaying just what each member brings to the table action wise, rendered with a real whimsy by artists Will Robson, Daniele Orlandini, and Greg Menzie. Armed with charm, scale, and engaging characters, the Future Foundation is back in a big way.
Lois Lane #2 (Published by DC; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The first two pages of this issue are home to a number of orphaned word balloons, snippets of conversation caught through channel surfing, with Lois Lane hearing what the news and gossip shows are saying about her. Like her husband, she’s learned to filter out the noise. As much as Greg Rucka’s script for this issue pushes forward her lines of inquiry as well as some Question-related action abroad, the biggest strength of the series is how well it makes use of mood and tone in the vein of political thrillers like All the President’s Men. Being able to immerse yourself in the specifics of her investigation is a real treat and wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the high-quality work of Mike Perkins and Paul Mounts on display from front to back. They bring an appropriate level of realism, their characters seem natural in how they act without being overly rendered to look realistic, while the overall perspective sticks to ground level. Not only does this book provide a human perspective on a world of superheroes, the noir tone shows it as one with something to be uncovered and potentially turned upside down as a result.
The Immortal Hulk #22 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Immortal Hulk #22 plays as a set-up for the larger battle to come, as the full Hulk family get ready to go up against the Shadow Base. The strongest element of this issue is between the Hulk family as we get to see how Rick, Joe, and Betty have all changed because of their new Hulk forms. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Betty and Joe where Betty fully embraces the monster she has become — she’s at the point where she seems more comfortable in her Hulk form than in her own human form. Artist Joe Bennett really aces the visuals in this scene as Rick’s decrepit body lies in the bathtub next to them, adding nicely to the creepiness of Al Ewing’s script. I wish there was more panel time to focus on these dynamics, instead of splitting between the Shadow Base and Alpha Flight – they all deserve their own separate issues. The Immortal Hulk #22 sets up the pieces for an epic gamma ray battle, but is a rather somber issue that puts more of a focus on the series’ haunting visuals and relationships.
The Green Lantern #10 (Published by DC; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Grant Morrison returns to the Multiverse with a “Super-Corps of Green Lanterns” in The Green Lantern #10. The effects of the Dark Multiverse’s exposure to the “Prime Universe” have spilled into the GL’s jurisdictions, and Lanterns from across time and space have gathered to fight the threat. Though Morrison’s trademark portentous writing kind of muddies the explanation of the concept, his tersely funny take on Hal Jordan continues to impress and (somewhat) ground the insanity happening around him. Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff continue to swing for the cosmic fences with this title and this grand plot gives them even more room to run with. Gathering the Elseworlds Green Lantern Batman, a hippie Green Lantern, and 10 more (including Hal), the team fling them across the multiverse in expansive, densely packed pages of cosmic action. Even as it heads into its “season finale,” The Green Lantern #10 shows the commitment the title has to being as weird and as big as possible.
Die #6 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10) Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans fantasy epic picks up where it left off with a brooding character study that asks readers to consider the futility and cost of their choices. He dives into Angela’s background - a cyberpunk warrior in the world of Die, she’s faced with a hard decision in order to move the party forward. This is where Gillen tends to excel. Despite the fantastic setting and superpowers, he’s able to cut to the heart of these characters and give them meaningful, quiet moments and are even more memorable than a dragon being slain. (Though, that’s fun, too.) Hans feels like she’s only getting more and more comfortable in this world the more she lives in it. Her work should be a major draw for any fantasy art aficionado. Die continues to be a worthy successor to Gillen’s other work.
Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 (Published by DC; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): We all have a role to play, and most have masters to serve. In Sinestro’s eyes, many of these do so simply because others are, and it’s just easier to go along with it. This Year of the Villain one-shot penned by Mark Russell sees the Ultraviolet Ringslinger go up against a set of interlinked societies. There’s a group of beings called Paragons from another universe headed towards Earth, destroying every planet in their path while en route, and Lex Luthor entrusts his ally of the ultraviolet spectrum with eliminating the threat so his scheming can continue. As a cosmic tale, the art team of Yildiray Cinar, Julio Ferreira and Hi-Fi do enough to properly illustrate the scale of the story overall, but the galactic locales visited aren’t heavily detailed, in part a factor of how the story puts their appearances on a countdown clock. Sinestro’s efforts to accomplish his mission see him realising the amount which he can affect a society by; this sociological slant to the book is expected this far into Russell’s career, but the allegory doesn’t hit upon as deep a truth as he has proven capable of previously.
Invisible Woman #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The moral of Mark Waid and Mattia De Iulis’ Invisible Woman is to never underestimate Susan Storm-Richards. She’s a character that is criminally overlooked, but I’m glad she’s finally getting the spotlight she deserves. In this issue, Black Widow doesn’t believe in Sue’s spy skills, but Natasha quickly learns that Sue is more than qualified to play in the big leagues. Sue’s drinking contest with Black Widow’s contact is amazing, and beautifully showcases Sue using her powers and wits to her advantage. Mattia De Iulis’ pencils are one of the biggest draws to the book, his artwork is so imaginative and crisp. It’s the perfect look for this superhero, espionage title. The series’ bright colors are a nice change of pace for this genre, and displays why this series isn’t your average spy comic book. Invisible Woman #2 does a great job at setting up Sue’s main mission, all while displaying some fun, espionage scenarios to showcase Sue’s true skill set.
Superman: Up in the Sky #2 (Published by DC; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): “Walmart Superman” continues with tributes to the indomitability and inspiration that is Superman in Superman: Up in the Sky #2. Again featuring two installments of the former anthology series, Tom King delivers a literal one-two punch of stories. One centered around a boxing match between Superman and Mighto, and the other about Superman being rescued by a race of aliens that can heal him at the cost of their own life. Both form a neat narrative pairing with one another, and show that King can bring the same kind of baroque theatricality to Superman as he does Batman. Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, and Brad Anderson also continue to impress on this side story, providing rich colored action and high emotion to go along with King’s conceptual scripts. Making good use of its newfound accessibility in comic shops Superman: Up in the Sky #2 shows that it has something to say for now.
Crowded #8 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): As Charlie’s bounty rises, so do the stakes. Crowded #8 focuses on the blossoming love/hate romance between Vita and Charlie, all while more threatening assassins lurk in the background to get ready to take their aim for the duo. One of my favorite aspects of Crowded is the organic character work. The audience are placed in Vita and Charlie’s shoes as they slowly learn more about each other. This issue may be a bit of a slow burn, but it’s a necessary character story as Christopher Sebela explores Vita’s past. On artwork, it’s evident how much fun Ro Stein and Ted Brandt are having with the Las Vegas setting. There are even slot machines themed by Charlie’s $2 million bounty and swords filled with liquor – only in Vegas, right? Crowded #8 does a good job at “raising the ante” for Charlie and Vita’s relationship and the assassins they are destined to fight along the way.