Greetings, ‘Rama readers! Ready for your Rapid-Fire Reviews! Best Shots has your back with this week’s pellets - let’s kick off with Commanding Kat Calamia, who takes a look at this week’s Marauders...
Marauders #7 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Following his cliffhanger ending with Kitty Pryde and Lockheed, writer Gerry Duggan focuses on a different side of the X-Men - the Morlocks. Traditionally, the Hellfire Club have been the kings and queens of the mutant community while the Morlocks were forced to hide - but now that the Dawn of X has arrived, Emma Frost is inviting the Morlock leader Callisto to come out and play. Marauders #7 is a funny installment that further explores the wider X-Men community outside of Krakoa, which is a great contrast to the series’ previous action packed issue. On artwork, guest artist Stefano Caselli provides the best visuals we’ve seen on the title thus far, displaying some great crisp, expressive line work. Overall, Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli deliver a gutsy issue that keeps us tensely on the hook from the last issue’s major cliffhanger.
DC’s Crimes of Passions (Published by DC; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): In time for Valentine’s Day, DC delivers Crimes of Passion, an anthology featuring fan-favorite heroes and villains in emotional entanglements of all sorts. The strength of Crimes of Passion is in its variety - there’s a little something for everyone, not just in the myriad characters, but in the exploration of relationships both light-hearted and ill-fated, romantic and material. The team on “Reflections of the Heart,” featuring the Question, should just be given a full Question series if they want it - Ram V’s powerful writing fully captures the spirit of the character, and John Paul Leon delivers a gorgeous, moody noir atmosphere. It’s lovely to see Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer again in “Out of the Past,” and Sina Grace, Mike Norton, Hi-Fi and Troy Peteri’s Plastic Man story “The Prettiest Thing” is also a highlight. My personal favorite of the bunch is “Secret Admirer,” a curious Pied Piper tale written by Sam Johns and James Tynion IV with art by Gleb Melnikov - I love Hartley Rathaway anyway, but Johns and Tynion deliver a twisty tale that offers a fresh and captivating perspective on one of my all-time favorite (former) rogues. This is a super-fun and well-crafted collection, and one I hope DC revisits again in the future.
The After Realm Quarterly #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): This comic book is a delight. An oversized quarterly tale that follows Oona the Elf as she navigates the Nine Realms post-Ragnarok, this is a must-read for fantasy fans. Writer and artist Michael Avon Oeming delivers a fresh twist on a well-worn mythos with a story that deftly avoids fantasy’s tendencies to get too self-serious. Oona’s adventurous and full of heart, and her spirit gives the book a lighthearted hopefulness even in the moments of Oona’s, uh, more ill-advised decision making. Taki Soma’s rich colors are the perfect match to Oeming’s bold style, particularly those moments where the magic of Elfheim comes to the forefront, spotlighted with gorgeous, vibrant pops of orange and electric teal. This is a flat-out fun story that’s accessible for fans of any fantasy realm, whether it’s Tolkein or more recent works like Critical Role.
Ant-Man #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Ant-Man returns, and as per usual Scott Lang can’t catch a break. He’s living in an ant hill, and his current living situation is putting his superhero relationship with his daughter Cassie on ice. Zeb Wells’ Ant-Man debut is a funny installment for the character, but it’s rooted in a sad-sack storyline that feels a little less than fresh. In many ways, it feels like there’s a missed opportunity going on with Scott’s partnership with Cassie, which was unfortunately the major marketing hook for the book - given how the two have defied death on more than one occasion to work together, it’s frustrating to see Cassie cast as such a sullen teenage stereotype. Given that Cassie has been defined by her love for her father, I wish this issue put more care towards that partnership as they did with the jokes. On artwork, Dylan Burnett’s style is the perfect fit for this more light-hearted title and takes the time to explore the small emotional beats displayed with this issue. Ant-Man #1 brings plenty of humor, but in exchange for a lack of a moving father/daughter story years in the making.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 (Published by BOOM! Studios and IDW Publishing; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): For an issue that barely has the titular Turtles in it, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 still manages to be the most fun issue of the series yet. With the Shredder having commandeered Tommy's Green Ranger power coin, the Turtles baddie is powerful enough to give Rita Repulsa a run for her money, beautifully illustrated by Simone Di Meo and given genuinely fearsome dialogue by Ryan Parrott. While the subplot featuring Tommy and his friend Tyler feels a little underwhelming, the dynamics between the Rangers and the Turtles feels pitch-perfect, including the budding friendships between Zack and Michelangelo, and Billy and Donatello. Combined with an all-time banger of a cliffhanger, '90s kids of every stripe should not miss Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3.
The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #12 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Kat Calamia; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #12 determines Kamala’s father’s fate as Ms. Marvel must choose between her dad and saving her ex-classmate and current enemy Josh’s life. It’s a classic Marvel dilemma that writer Saladin Ahmed delivers nicely, showing that there are true consequences to being a hero. Ahmed is able to juggle multiple character plotlines with ease, including Kamala’s fight with her own suit and the romantic relationship budding between her and Bruno. On artwork, Minkyu Jung brings a great slice-of-life feel to the book that perfectly balances Kamala’s civilian life with her superhero adventures. The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #12 feels like a classic Ms. Marvel tale with a lingering taste of nostalgia, as Kamala and Bruno once again have a secret all to themselves, just like the early days of G. Willow Wilson's run.