Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your pellets? Best Shost has you covered with our latest Rapid-Fire Reviews! Let’s kick things off with the latest issue of Detective Comics…
X-Force #10 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Wolverine, Domino, and Kid Omega grapple with an invasive species in X-Force #10, a solid actioner that might be more memorable in its final two pages than necessarily with the fisticuffs that precede it. Writer Benjamin Percy delivers some fun beats involving Domino's luck powers, as she has to blindly navigate the traps of a telefloronic temple of doom. Artist Joshua Cassara is at his best leaning into these fun horror beats as well, like the normally indefatigable Wolverine being dragged into the darkness, his adamantium claws finding him no purchase against stone floors. But fans of X-Men soap operatics will much prefer the Logan-Jean epilogue, which confirms the polyamorous twist to the franchise’s classic love triangle (and all but confirms Wolverine's in-canon bisexuality). While the actual action can at times feel a little by-the-numbers, Percy and Cassara stick the landing nicely on X-Force #10.
Detective Comics #1023 (Published by DC; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Between Peter Tomasi digging into Scott Snyder’s Batman mythology — not to mention the incredible way that Brad Walker brings it all to life — and you’ve got yourself a rollicking good time in Detective Comics #1023. While the Joker brings Court of Owls baddie Lincoln March back from the dead, Batman tackles Hugo Strange, the Mad Hatter, and Two-Face wearing the 'Rookie' armor from Jim Gordon's 'Superheavy' days. Tomasi keeps the pacing light on its feet, drawing a lot from recent continuity, but it’s Walker who's the real superstar of this book. The way that Walker plays around with visual vocabulary for Batman's silhouette is a great look for this series, and honestly, he might have one-upped Greg Capullo for his take on the Court of Owls suit, which now has an almost Iron Man-like power to it now. Don’t miss out on this.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #1 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Kat Calamia; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Following the events of 'Hellmouth,' Willow gets a much-deserved spotlight as she embarks on her own journey of self-discovery. Writer Mariko Tamaki is a master at writing internal monologues, as she transports readers into the inner turmoil of Willow's anguish. That said, Tamaki doesn't leave much room to tell a visually striking narrative as Willow jarringly moves from several different settings without much action - leaning too heavily on the title's stream-of-conscious narrative. This is a shame, as penciler Natacha Bustos showcases some of her best work yet as she trades her cartoony pencils for a more mature look, without betraying the style we've seen in her most prominent works like Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Willow #1 is not a perfect first issue, but delivers a promising character journey for this Buffy fan favorite.
The Death of Nancy Drew #2 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Kat Calamia; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Well, the cat is out of the bag — Nancy Drew isn't actually dead. Case closed, right? Not quite — The Death of Nancy Drew isn't about the teen detective’s figurative death, but instead her metaphorical one. Writer Anthony Del Col expertly switches his point of view from Joe Hardy to the series' namesake to dig deeper into what forced Nancy to fake her own death and take on a new identity. Only problem is, the mystery is far less interesting than the possibility of Nancy Drew's murder. Did this series show its cards too early? Luckily, the Hardy Boys' dynamic and Nancy Drew's narration make for an entertaining and character-driven issue. On artwork, Joe Eisma's pencils and Salvator Aiala's colors make for a visually striking modern noir tale, even if some of the character moments feel a bit rushed. The Death of Nancy Drew #2 may not have the same punch as its premiere, but still has splendid character work to make the series a worthwhile pick-up.
Superman #23 (Published by DC; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): In the aftermath of revealing his secret identity to the world, Superman checks in with a professional to make sure his mind hasn't been tampered with — which means an appointment with Doctor Fate. While writer Brian Michael Bendis' high concept is a promising one, the result winds up feeling more like a recap of his tenure on the Superman books rather than any new insights — I get that Clark has been through a lot given the death of his father and the behind-the-scenes finagling to get Jon Kent out of the main series, but I wish there was a bit more specific insight from Fate, both as a magical being and as average joe Khalid Nassour. Artist Kevin Maguire has a tough time making an impact here as well, given that he’s mostly boxed in with talking-head conversations — John Timms fares a bit better with the more action-y Xanadoth interludes, but given the largely disconnected nature of that subplot, it doesn't help much. Superman is a title that feels like it's spinning its wheels, which doesn't bode well for Clark Kent's supposedly world-shaking new status quo.
Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides #4 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): This issue continues the story of Minsc, Boo, and the rest of the party of adventurers as they struggle against the infernal tides of demons and devils in Avernus — the first layer of Hell and the home of the Blood War between these two armies of evil. Jim Zub and Max Dunbar serve up a familiar dish of action/adventure that fans have come to know and love, as the story is grand in setting while creating moments for the characters to grow and become more than simple two-dimensional NPCs. This issue in particular allows Krydle and Nerys to open up and breathe a bit more as we see just how much their friendships mean to them and how far they'll step outside of their past comfort zones to be the heroes we know they'll become. Overall, we're clearly in the middle of the story here, so new readers will need to get caught up; however, those already following along will find Infernal Tides #4 is a satisfying read and does a fine job of setting readers up for the major conflict that will play out in the next issue.
Write it in Blood #4 (Published by Gumroad; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Sometimes, you find a comic that's diamond in the rough that acquisition editors at the known publishers seem to have missed. Write it in Blood is one of those self-published miniseries. Write it in Blood tells the story of two ne'er-do-well brothers, Cosmo and Arthur, who are foot soldiers in the Irish mob with an eye towards retirement. But as is the case for most mobsters, there's never really making a clean break with a past life of crime. The story could go a few ways in this final issue, and while Rory McConville's ending won't necessarily shock fans of mafia stories, it doesn't make it any less satisfying. There's a charming awkwardness to the brothers that will leave readers hoping for the best as their boss, the Baron, comes barreling down on them. Likewise, Joe Palmer and Chris O'Halloran's work on the line art, inks and colors has that sort of sharp, grittiness that one expects in a hard-boiled crime comic like this. All in all, this issue caps off a great indie crime miniseries that fans of the genres would do well to pick up.