Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Thursday pellets? Best Shots has your back with this week's Rapid-Fire Reviews — so let's kick off this week's column with a look at Wolverine…
Wolverine #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Benjamin Percy clearly understands the voice of Wolverine, but his plotting still feels haphazard in the general Krakoan scheme of things. Teaming up with an artistic juggernaut like Adam Kubert means that Wolverine #3 is going to look beautiful — and it makes up for a lot — but it's hard to read this issue and not feel like the story has been less than impactful. Part of this is because Logan's goal — to stop Russia from selling the drug known as Petal, while stopping their telepathic enforcer the Pale Girl — doesn't really feel like it changes or impacts Wolverine as a person, particularly since he's got to enlist characters like Quentin Quire, Storm, Bishop and Pyro to take care of the job anyway. What makes this book different than X-Force, or even the flagship X-Men title? Kubert, however, makes the book feel punchy, even if certain beats like Logan stealing Magneto's helmet don't necessarily land. A gorgeous misfire.
Canto & the Clockwork Fairies #1 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Fans of last year's Canto miniseries will likely be happy to see the little adventurer back in action before his sequel series. But there's very little appeal here for readers coming to this cold. David M. Booher's script follows the clockwork soldier Canto as he finds himself suddenly in a position to save some captured fairies. But the story itself really just meanders, failing to deliver on what could've been an exciting scene — we also don't get much of a sense of the world or the characters' personalities in this one-shot, which is a shame because Drew Zucker's designs are delightful. The artist is able to give the book an almost Jim Henson-like feel as it features echoes of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. But the plotting really leaves something to be desired, despite the art team's best efforts.
Batgirl #47 (Published by DC; Review by Kat Calamia; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): "The Joker War" premiers this week with tie-ins affecting the whole Bat Family – including Batgirl. The Joker pays a visit to Barbara Gordon's apartment having her relive her biggest trauma from The Killing Joke, but this time Babs is in charge. Cecil Castellucci and Robbi Rodriguez showcase Barbara's raw strength and intelligence as she's forced to go up against the villain without the use of her legs. I enjoyed seeing Barbara outsmart the Joker, but the idea of The Joker "controlling" her body via her electronic spinal implant feels like a step back from the positive representation Castellucci was trying to portray with this tie-in. On artwork, the Spider-Gwen artist raises the bar, channeling the angst perfectly in this emotionally charged narrative. Batgirl #47 isn't a perfect redemption story for the infamous '80s Batman tale, but it does allow Barbara to take charge of her Women in Refrigerators moment, making this a worthwhile pick-up.
Power Rangers: Ranger Slayer #1 (Published by Boom! Studios; Review by Kat Calamia; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The original Go Go Power Rangers creative team, Ryan Parrott and Dan Mora, return to tell one last story with their "Shattered Grid" creation - Ranger Slayer. The 40-page one-shot has Kimberly return to the Coinless Universe with her world on the brink of war as both sides deal with the loss of Lord Drakkon. In this universe, right and wrong isn't as black and white as what we've seen on the Power Rangers TV show. Parrott delivers a character-driven narrative that shows the lengths Kimberly will go for her chance at redemption. Ranger Slayer #1 not only explores the moral complexities of Kimberly's character, but in a twist of fate, Trini's, as well. Dan Mora translates this darker tone perfectly with his visuals. The Power Rangers aren't superheroes fighting a big bad, but instead soldiers heading to war. Ranger Slayer #1 tells a very satisfying one and done story, while also leaving more than enough room for future creative teams to explore the multidimensional world of the Coinless Universe.
Chu #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): It's been a while since readers have had a bite of John Layman and Rob Guillory's acclaimed Chew, and Chu offers a fresh dish for long-time fans and new readers alike. This time around, the story focuses on Tony Chu's sister, Saffron, and her failed attempt at masterminding a criminal heist. It starts off introducing a host of characters only to see them scatter to the wind… or blow up once the operation goes south. The story feels doubly familiar not just because it employs a tried-and-true trope of pitting two siblings against each other – one a criminal and the other a law enforcement officer – but Dan Boultwood's art effectively captures the same style and look as his predecessor. Chu #1 offers much of the same grotesque humor from before, but whether or not this new series feels like warmed-up leftovers remains to be seen.
Daredevil #21 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto deliver their best issue of Daredevil to date, as Matt Murdock goes for the path of accountability and chooses to turn himself in. What you think would feel like a quiet issue instead speaks volumes, with Daredevil's decision rippling out to affect Mayor Wilson Fisk, Foggy Nelson, Detective Cole North, and even a cameo from the Amazing Spider-Man, in a strong callback to one of Zdarsky and Checchetto's earlier standout sequences. Checchetto's artwork is masterfully stylish, using shadows to play up Daredevil's menacing look as he finally steps back into the classic red costume — but Zdarsky also produces some killer work here, continuing his long-standing threads about morality and responsibility when it comes to vigilantes working outside the law. If you haven't been reading this stylish and confidently told series, do yourself a favor and buy Daredevil today.
Detective Comics #1024 (Published by DC; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): It's not totally clear how this is a prelude to "Joker War," but at the very least it's a solid Batman story. Peter J. Tomasi has done good work with the Bat in the past and he turns in a good effort here. The real draw is Brad Walker's art. His Batman has such a classic feel to it — like a modern twist on Norm Breyfogle's work — and I really enjoy his Joker as well. The pages themselves are a little bit busy because the plotting kind of demands that — there's lots of fire and crowds amidst the fighting. At times it can overwhelm the pages a little bit, but Walker manages to build some space into his layouts when he can and his character work really shines though. Obviously, this story is just setting up little details for "Joker War," but Tomasi and Walker try to make that as entertaining as possible.
Action Comics #1023 (Published by DC; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): Brian Michael Bendis' "The House of Kent" storyline is really collapsing in on itself, and we're only two parts in. The Red Cloud and the Invisible Mafia are punchless, bloodless villains, and the stakes of the story are completely unclear. And Bendis falls into so many of the same bad dialogue habits that we're used to seeing from him when he's spinning his wheels. John Romita, Jr. is a legend, but he remains a bad fit for Superman. (I realize this makes me sound like someone who would have welcomed Curt Swan redrawing Jack Kirby's Superman faces when he started at DC, but whatever.) It doesn't matter what writer he's drawing for, his rough-hewn style just doesn't play right for the Man of Steel. Add in his penchant for drawing the same boxy features on all of his characters, and even a herculean effort by Klaus Janson can't save this one.