Greetings, Rama Reviewers, your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here! Team Best Shots is at it again, with a six-pack of Rapid-Fire Reviewers all frosty and ready to read! We've got tons of books from DC, Marvel and Vertigo, including a double helping of new #1s. Want some more? We've got your back, over at the Best Shots Topic Page! And now, let's kick off today's column with that sentinel of the spaceways, that shiny samaritan — Silver Surfer #1!
Silver Surfer #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; Click here for preview): So I think the Silver Surfer has had a problem connecting with people over the past few years. Seen by fans as primarily "Cosmic Big Gun" or "Cold Herald of Galactus," there's not a lot to resonate with, you know? But I think that's Greg Pak's biggest success with Silver Surfer #1: He doesn't just try to build a rapport with readers through Norrin Radd's emotions — in certain ways he's actually still pretty aloof — but uses some nice tactile imagery to play up what it must be like to be coated in space silver and surfing on solar flares. There's a real poetry to some of these lines here: "The embers just slide off the perfect silver skin my master gifted me so many years ago." Art-wise, it's clear that Stephen Segovia is continuing to build up his craft, bringing in the hard angles and sketchy detailing reminiscent of Leinil Francis Yu and reining in some of the loopier panel layout choices that hobbled work like Dark Wolverine. Still, I don't know if I'd say he's quite copacetic with colorist Wil Quintana, who seems to be all over the place with his color choices. While I'm not quite sure where this book is headed yet thematically, it's nice to see the Surfer connect with readers again.
Green Lantern #62 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): Between this issue and Brightest Day, Geoff Johns has to be pretty exhausted, because Green Lantern #62 pulls out all the fireworks. If action is your reward, this is definitely the book you should be reading — just on the second page, Doug Mahnke absolutely lights up the page, as Hal Jordan wages a one-man war against Krona, the most ancient and dangerous of the Guardians. Mahnke really does wonders with shadows and light, and that's what makes these little moments — like Hal about to punch somebody's lights out — look extremely badass. That said, there are a couple of hiccups here, which probably could have been remedied with 22 pages rather than the newly streamlined 20. For example, Atrocitus leaps on Krona, biting his throat, and we don't see a reaction to this attack on the next page. That's kind of jarring, as is the abrupt ending. Still, I give Johns some credit for at least addressing the relentless pacing this series has had over the past two years. Will the War of the Green Lanterns be as enjoyable as Johns' previous crossovers? It's still too early to say, but this issue certainly packs a lot of punch into just 20 pages.
Hawkeye: Blindspot #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; Click here for preview): In many Avengers fans, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye has always been "the man". He's brash, cocky, has one of the best costumes in comics, and in a world of high-tech machinery and sorcery, he's still manages to take bad guys down using a bow and arrow. Though what happens when the world's greatest marksman learns he is losing his sight? That's what we dive into in this mini-series. Jim McCann has been striking gold with these Hawkeye minis as of late. He captures the glory days of the Hawkeye series back in the 80's with bold adventures that remind somebody like me why I still love comics. McCann backtracks a little with some of Barton's circus days as we see the Swordsman and Trickshot and Barton learning the ropes, so to speak. We see his reformation and joining the Avengers, which leads to another encounter with an old ghost from the past. Pico Diaz is just marvelous here. I'm not too familiar with any previous work of his, but I'm officially a fan. He has that 70's vibe in the vein of Neal Adams and Gil Kane, with a slice of George Perez in his rendering. I just wish Tomeu Morey's colors wouldn't have dampened the art. It's not bad per se, but everything seems to have an extra bit of orange to everything and just looks not as sharp as it could be. Hawkeye: Blindspot hearkens back to a simpler age of storytelling, but is hardly "simple". If you're itching for something that the current Avengers books might not be scratching, look no further than this.
Fables #102 (Published by Vertigo, Review by Amanda McDonald): "Look, babe. I'm not an expert on much," Pinocchio says, "But I know my funny books." We've known it was coming for a while, but it still felt odd picking up my copy of Fables with superhero looking characters on the cover. As the Fabletown legends continue to attempt to escape prosecution from Dark, Pinocchio has decided the logical choice is forming a super-team. He is now using a wheelchair, because as he explains — all the doctors or professors in charge of such teams use a wheelchair. This arc is definitely aimed toward the Fables reader with a sense of humor. Pinocchio's idea of what needs to be done and how it needs to fit a super-hero formula had me chuckling all the way through, despite the gravity of the situation. Billed as part one of the arc, it will be interesting to see where Willingham goes with this. I don't want superheroes in my Fables books. BUT, if it's only going to be this one arc — I can deal with it, so long as I continue to be aided by the humorous nods to the most formulaic books featuring capes and tights out there.
Avengers Academy #9 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; Click here for preview): What's great about a coming-of-age story like Avengers Academy is that you get to see writer Christos Gage evolve and mature as well. It feels like the past few issues of this series have really flown under the radar, which is a shame — there's a lot of texture to these characters, a lot of nuance and friction that makes you root for our teenage antiheroes, even as you worry about their future. I love the interplay between Finesse and Quicksilver — "I'm quite familiar with the extortion threats by now," the speedster says. "Still... my alternative is the faculty meeting and I'd rather have my brain extracted through my nose." Meanwhile, Mike McKone absolutely tears up the fight sequence between Finesse and her father, the Taskmaster — just some really sharp composition with the acrobatics, and the expressiveness he gives the typically aloof Finesse adds a lot of layers to what could have been just an ordinary fight scene. You know, "layers" might be the best way to describe Avengers Academy's success — there's a lot of meaning stacked up in these pages, a lot of subtext, a lot of nuance. It's clear that Christos Gage is really hitting his stride with this cast, and I'm excited to see him grow along with these students.
Supergirl #61 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): I was curious to see how this book would go. After all, it's not too often you get two writers on a re-launch, then have the bigger name split after one issue. Would I notice a big difference with James Peatty writing solo, or would Nick Spencer's absence be unnoticed? The answer is yes and no — while the dialogue does lose a little bit of that trademark Spencer snap, the art and overall high concept is still more than enough to give Supergirl some deserved swagger. In a lot of ways, it's DC's teen heroes that are the real lost generation of this shared universe, and this series takes some pretty daring steps toward putting Supergirl at the front lines — this is a reordering of the mythology, a crossover with a purpose, as Damien Wayne proves to be the top foil in the DCU for Kara Zor-El. Art-wise, I'm really digging Bernard Chang — he sometimes brings that animated cleanliness to his lines, and unlike the previous issue, there's no instances of bottlenecking with too many panels. All in all, this arc of Supergirl is the kind of book the industry should have more of — it's weighty yet self-contained, important yet easy to follow. Metropolis just got that much more interesting.