17 Jun 2018

Mini Reviews 17/06/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

THE MAGIC ORDER #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Olivier Coipel & Dave Stewart
Image $3.99

Matt C: It’s strange seeing Netflix’s logo displayed so prominently on a comic book but, following the media giant’s purchase of Millarworld, here’s where they get an idea of whether or not they made a wise investment. The worry in this situation is that the comic is just a storyboard for a proposed TV show/movie and not the real deal, but whatever your opinions of Mark Millar’s hucksterism, his love of the medium is always abundantly clear and his impact on it over the last couple of decades can’t be understated. He appears to have hit on another winning idea here (Netflix can breathe easy!) as a shocking murder spins us into a hidden world of magicians protecting the blissfully unaware from the terrifying unknown. It’s a compelling set-up, and the characterization is strong, but the added bonus here is Olivier Coipel’s evocative, vivid artistry which reaffirms his status as one of the best in the business. The Magic Order may ultimately end up in the live action environment as part of the Netflix deal but the fact that this issue is one of the strongest debuts of the year so far should be all the discerning comics fan cares about at this stage. No nefarious sleight of hand here, just genuine comic book thrills. 8/10

15 Jun 2018

The Shipping Forecast: August 2018

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the June issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2018.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Sara Pichelli
Marvel $5.99

Matt C: Before the likes of the X-Men and the Avengers caught my attention, the Fantastic Four were the first superteam I fell in love with at an early age. It was probably the family angle that appealed the most, the bonds between the characters bringing them to life in ways that ensured the foursome found a permanent place in my heart. I've not religiously picked up Fantastic Four comics since - there have been periods were it wasn't even close to being the 'World's Greatest Comics Magazine' - but when it's been good it has up there with the best the genre has to offer, and their absence from the Marvel Universe over the last couple of years has been felt. The recent Marvel 2-In-One series was a highly enjoyable reminder of why these characters are so enduring and while there's no guarantee this relaunch will result in another classic run, it will be great to have them back.

12 Jun 2018

On The Pull 13/06/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Andy H: Thor has been a constant on my pull-list for well over ten years now, since way back when J. Michael Straczynski took over the writing. Since then it's gone from strength to strength with Jason Aaron lately making every issue an unmissable event. Now he's back with Thor #1 and is joined by artist Mike Del Mundo. The Odinson has been restored as the God of Thunder and must find Asgardian artefacts scattered across the Earth. I have to say, it's a shame Marvel have decided to make this a $5.99 book as this could put off many potential new readers to what should be a great read. Venom #2 makes this week's pull after the cracking first issue won me over with some interesting new twists on a character you think you know. Donny Cates once again proves why he is a real hot property for Marvel at the moment. Giant Days has been one of my favourite titles over the last few years thanks to the writing of John Allison. Now he brings us By Night #1, which moves away from the down-to-earth Giant Days to something a little more fantastic, as friends Jane and Heather open a portal to another world. I have high hopes for this one. Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1 pairs regular series writer Chip Zdarsky with artist Declan Shalvey and, if that isn't enough, we've got Doctor Doom and the Council of Reeds! That should be enough to tide over Fantastic Four fans until August.

10 Jun 2018

Mini Reviews 10/06/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & Tomeu Morey
DC $3.99

James R: I should start by saying that I normally avoid the big team books from Marvel and DC - it takes a special talent to keep the plots balanced whilst coming up with interesting threats for an overpowered group. I had to take a look at Justice League #1 though - I really love Jim Cheung's art, and the opportunity to see him illustrating DC's icons was irresistible. As you might imagine, the book looks stellar - Cheung's pencils give the pages a suitably epic feel. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Snyder's plot too: obviously, the League faces a seemingly apocalyptic threat but Snyder provides plenty of intrigue whilst moving the narrative along at a pace. Snyder has been DC's 'Top Gun' for a while now but with this book it really feels like he's accepting the mantle. I thought the Dark Nights: Metal event was a misfire, but this feels far better judged; it's just a more enjoyable read. So, despite my reservations, I got sold on Justice League - I shall definitely back for issue #2, and I hope this is the start of a run that continues to confound and exceed expectations. 8/10

5 Jun 2018

On The Pull 06/06/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Jo S: Last month saw the final issues of some of my long-standing series, which has made some space on my list for a few new treats, and with good timing as the presses at Marvel have been running in top gear generating a huge portfolio of stuff which is just to my taste. MCU connections abound: as the Rise Of The Black Panther series closes this week, having delivered a fascinatingly educative backstory to the Wakandan empire, a new Ant-Man And The Wasp series buzzes into life - there's actually a choice of Ant-Man and Wasp books this week, so I've gone for the Waid-Garrón miniseries. Mark Waid’s writing on the early parts of the recent Captain America series really appealed to me, and Javier Garrón’s art adeptly complemented Matt Rosenberg’s writing in Secret Warriors last year, so this collaboration has my attention almost more than the upcoming movie. While we’re on the ‘current movie’ theme, a new Deadpool #1 skydives into comic books stores, careens off a shelf, drops into a roll and tumbles straight under the cash desk, guns still blazing… This time the Regeneratin’ Degenerate is saving the Earth from destruction - yeah, we can trust him with that, right? And talking of regenerating immortal types, Hulk gets a horror-style makeover this month courtesy of Al Ewing and Joe Bennett. This is Hulk with a twist though: kill Banner during the day and he returns for vengeance when the sun sets as the Immortal Hulk. Finally I'll be grabbing my shredded jeans and safety pins as Dazzler stomps into her punk phase - not sure if it'll be my thing without the glitter ball and shiny white disco catsuit, but I'm open to considering a style change.

3 Jun 2018

Mini Reviews 03/06/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

MAN OF STEEL #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Ivan Reis, Jay Fabok, Joe Prado & Alex Sinclair
DC $3.99

James R: After a lot of pre-publicity and hype, the official debut of Bendis in the DCU is, to damn it with faint praise, fine. It probably didn't help that I spent some time this week re-reading the peerless All-Star Superman, but the first issue of Man Of Steel ticks a lot of the boxes that you'd expect from a Superman book without ever electrifying. We're introduced to a new Big Bad in the shape of Rogol Zaar, scenes of Superman being super, and then Superman meets 'real hero' - Deputy Fire Chief Melody Moore. Bendis shows that he's got Kal-El's voice right, and the art from Reis and Fabok has a blockbuster feel to it, but at $3.99 a week, I didn't feel that this is going to be an exciting new take on the character, or a compelling narrative. I said it at the time, but this bears repeating: Action Comics #1000 showed that there are still myriad possibilities when it comes to great Superman stories - on this evidence, I'm not sure that Man Of Steel hits the mark. 6/10

29 May 2018

On The Pull 30/06/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

James R: It's a week that (once again) is dominated by Image Comics and my favourite working creator - Jeff Lemire. The publisher releases the next instalments of Royal City and Descender, the SF epic crafted with Dustin Nguyen. The latter is now moving towards an endgame, and it's held my attention for the entire run - I think this is is a title that people will discover when it has concluded and collected; like my beloved Star Wars, it's a series epic in scope but with a lot of heart. Speaking of series coming to an end, this week also sees Image release the penultimate issue of Kill Or Be Killed, a book that has twisted in unexpected ways throughout and been another win for Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser. It's also the final chapter of Barrier, and Vaughan and Martin's alien abduction tale has been one of the great surprises of the year. I've loved having the issues on a weekly basis (something that can be tricky to get right). Last but no means least from Image is the latest issue of Lazarus - the first issue back from the hiatus reminded us just how good this book is, and as always, I can't wait to see what Rucka and Lark produce. The other big release of the week is Grass Kings from BOOM! Studios. Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins' thriller has the weight and calibre of an HBO series, and as with Descender, it's a book that I'll encourage people to pick up in trade once it's wrapped up. From DC there's Man Of Steel #1, Brian Michael Bendis' much-heralded arrival in the DCU that has been definitely blunted by two underwhelming previews: surrounded by some simply magical stuff in Action Comics #1000, his contribution was pretty pedestrian, and the pages in the DC Nation #0 sampler didn't scream 'DO NOT MISS THIS!' That said, it would be remiss of me to not give the full issue a try - here's hoping the final product has been better than the trailers. Over at Marvel, I'm dipping back into the Star Wars books as there's a Lando miniseries! Lando: Double Or Nothing focuses on Lando prior to his appearance in Solo (which is GREAT, by the way) so given my love of Donald Glover's portrayal in the film, I hope this series from Rodney Barnes and Paolo Villanelli catches some of that magic.

27 May 2018

Mini Reviews 27/05/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

BLACK PANTHER #1
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Daniel Acuna
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: These days it seems that every Earthbound superhero has to have an extended sojourn into space and now it’s the turn of T’Challa to be launched into the cosmos so he can add intergalactic crimefighting to his CV. It’s not quite as simple as that here as the titular hero doesn’t remember who he is and so finds himself in the same boat as the reader, wondering what the heck is going on. It appears as though, a couple of centuries ago, some Wakandans departed Earth to set up a galactic empire, but the hows and whys are hard to come by at this stage. There are a handful of sci-fi staples utilized to set up what is, ostensibly, a formulaic plot, but having a familiar character front and centre leaves it open to the unexpected. It’s well done, even if the predictable nature of the narrative is distracting, and Acuña enlivens the proceedings with his brand of moody, muscular dynamism, but it’s questionable whether this is the iteration of T’Challa that people will really want to engage with at the moment. It may flip things on their heads in subsequent instalments but the debut hits the well-worn groove of sci-fi prison break shenanigans without offering a particularly fresh hook. Space T’Challa may prove to be your thing but I think I’ll need to wait until he returns home before I catch up with him again. 6/10

22 May 2018

On The Pull 23/05/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Matt C: Even if you've been living under a rock recently there will have been no escaping the unprecedented (and deserved) success of the Black Panther movie after it captured the zeitgeist in a way that took almost everybody off guard. That success won't necessarily translate across to world of comics but, although I didn't really connect with the previous Black Panther series, this new relaunch has me intrigued as it expands outwards across the multiverse to encompass the 'Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda'. Moving over to Image, if you've seen the teaser for the Deadly Class TV series that appeared last week, and are looking for a 'jumping on point', then issue #34 most definitely won't be it. This violent, emotionally-charged drama is really in full swing and your best bet is to seek out the first trade and dive in there - you won't be disappointed. The rest of us can wonder how Rick Remender and Wes Craig manage to keep things so intense from issue to issue. Also from Image, Days Of Hate #5 will continue to lead us through a very frightening version of the near future, Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson #5 will wrap up this look of how we attempt to grow old without letting our past define us, and Barrier #4 finds us at the penultimate chapter of this beguiling tale already. A fine selection of books to go home with this Wednesday.

20 May 2018

Mini Reviews 20/05/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

A WALK THROUGH HELL #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Goran Sudzuka & Ive Svorcina
Aftershock $3.99

Matt C: A welcome return to the horror genre for Garth Ennis. Following on from a (very) shocking opening sequence, the writer eases us into a seemingly banal environment, with a group of federal agents going about their business, yakking about ongoing cases punctuated with chit-chat on the dangers of Twitter. The routine nature of their actions and interactions can’t quite disguise a developing sense of dread, a sense that there’s something on the horizon, obfuscated by lack of expectation, but it’s there all the same. Ennis captures the banter and repetitiveness of the workday brilliantly, so when it’s disrupted by jolts of something far more sinister it really resonates. Sudzuka grounds the story with art that exudes humanity and doesn’t warrant flashiness; it helps add to the unnerving vibe that gets more pronounced as the issue progresses. I was reminded of Alan Moore’s Providence here, as this debut chapter also deals with the notion that something horrific lies just outside our peripheral vision, something with the power to corrupt irrevocably. It’s early days, but this book is showing signs it will live up to its title. 8/10