17 Feb 2019

Mini Reviews 17/02/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

WONDER TWINS #1
Writer Mark Russell
Art: Stephen Byrne
DC $3.99

Jo S: The next new start from the current crop of Bendis Wonder Comics is light-hearted teenage fun, packed with jabs at the oldsters of the Justice League and jammed with about as much social awkwardness as I can bear in a few pages. Jayna and her twin brother Zan have been rescued by Superman from an unexplained family embarrassment on their home planet, and effectively fostered by a less than enthusiastic superteam on Earth. Settling into a new school and new jobs as Hall of Justice junior heroes sets the twins multiple challenges - not least how to choose your catchphrase and get the best nickname - and Russell works familiar angles here: apparently whether you're superheroic or super ordinary, starting a new school is all about making your place in the social pecking order, because that's where you'll stay for the rest of your school career. Byrne's art is lively and nicely captures the chagrin of characters cringing in awkward self-consciousness. One small complaint: the big three heroes all behave slightly out of character on occasion: Supes is a little inconsiderate, Wondy veers into sarcasm and Bats volunteers a story about an embarrassment in his past - nothing serious and all adding to the sense of fun however. An entertaining breath of fresh air. 7/10

12 Feb 2019

On The Pull 13/02/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

James R: Yes, it's that time of year again where we remember the execution of Saint Valentine of Rome - by being beaten with clubs and beheaded, no less! Fortunately, the world of comics eschews this day, and it's business as usual on the pull-list. This week, my highlights come from Image; there's the second issue of Brubaker and Phillips' sublime Criminal, and the latest instalment of Gideon Falls from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. I was recently saying to my PCG friends that the latter is simply immaculate as a comic; it's yet to have a dull issue or a slack sequence, it's really comics at their best. Criminal falls into that category too - Brubaker and Phillips are just so good at what they do, I know I'm in for a treat before I've even opened the cover.

Over at DC, I'm picking up Flash #64 as it's part of the 'Price of Justice' crossover with Batman. I normally abhor such things, but in fairness, DC have limited the event to four issues, meaning it's not too much of a strain on the wallet, and as a tie-in with the phenomenal Heroes In Crisis, it becomes an essential purchase for me. I'll also be picking up the next part of The Batman Who Laughs miniseries as, against all odds, I'm really enjoying seeing Scott Snyder and Jock reunited and pulling in story threads from Snyder's early days in Gotham.

10 Feb 2019

Mini Reviews 10/02/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

DAREDEVIL #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Marco Checchetto & Sunny Gho
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: This is the first Daredevil comic I've picked up in a while, Chip Zdarsky's name attached to this latest series guaranteeing I take a look. It's plainly evident that the prematurely cancelled TV series has had a large influence on the tone and aesthetic - the show of course drew heavily on Frank Miller's run on the title, so things feel like they've gone full circle. As such there's a sense of familiar ground being trodden; Murdock's faith, his success with the ladies, and his questionable addiction to dispensing his own form of street justice are all present and correct. It's a reassuring opener, Zdarsky once again showing he has a good grasp on Marvel's pantheon, and it does look like his is a safe pair of hands for this character. I'm more familiar with Marco Checchetto's work on various Star Wars comics in the last few years, and this is certainly a different environment for him to explore, but he proves up to the task, especially when DD springs into action. Best of all is the four-page back-up, illustrated by Zdarsky, that gives us a 'look' at how Daredevil sees the world. It's a simple idea, deftly realised. 7/10

5 Feb 2019

On The Pull 06/02/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Andy H: Marvel make a bit of an impact on my pull-list this week: smashing its way to the top of my 'to read' pile is Immortal Hulk #13. A consistently good read from issue #1, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett have brought something special to the green goliath. This has been a more disturbing take on a character I have followed for years. There's something quite unsettling about him now and Bennett's art just nails it. If ever a comic can have you 'sitting on the edge of your seat', this is the one, plus another stunning Alex Ross cover adds to the sheer quality of this title.

Then, it's the return of Daredevil. Okay, so he hasn't really been away; the old series finished in December, then there was the five weekly issues of Man Without Fear in January and now, in February, there is a shiny, new Daredevil #1. There's very little information about the storyline but when the writer is Chip Zdarsky and the artist is Marco Checchetto it sets my 'must read' alarm off! Zdarsky made a real impression on me with his Peter Parker Spider-Man and Marvel Two-in-One runs. While they were quite light in tone I can't wait to see what he does with a character as gritty as old Hornhead.

3 Feb 2019

Mini Reviews 03/02/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

AGE OF X-MAN: ALPHA #1
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Art: Ramon Rosanas & Triona Farrell
Marvel $4.99

Mike S: Following a mixed 'X-Men Disassembled', and a cracking Uncanny X-Men Annual #11, we arrive at the much publicised Age of X-Man which, in homage to the classic Age Of Apocalypse, sees our heroes recast in a remodelled world created by Nate Grey. Far from being the overt nightmare world of the AoA, here we see a much more subtle inversion: an idyllic utopia where just underneath the surface there lurks something insidious and sinister. I’m a lover of an insidious dystopia and this primer really appealed to me! It is written with pace and manages to not only introduce a whole world picture where everyone is a mutant (in a beautifully presented pastiche that reminded me of Pleasantville) but in doing so establishes a new status quo of seeming perfection with subtle hints that this is only ever skin deep. References to ‘hatchdays’ and the too-perfect Summers Institute, along with a prohibition of relationships and mind-wiping, inject an Orwellian sensibility that raises this above the usual crossover fodder I have become used to from Marvel. While it is clearly an introduction to the subsequent miniseries set in this world and you are left to figure out for yourself what is going on and how these once familiar characters have been changed, it never feels particularly like a collection of primers: instead the issue flows and meshes well due to Thompson and Nadler’s expert craftsmanship. The art by Ramon Rosanas with colours by Triona Farrell perfectly captures this utopian society. The brightness and cinematic layout suggest a perfect, idyllic world. This mutant version of Huxley’s Brave New World is one I can definitely recommend! 9/10

31 Jan 2019

The Minor Opinion: MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS

Matt C: It's the duty of us comic book fans to keep the passion for the medium alive by passing it down to the next generation, and fortunately both of my sons have developed a similar love of the iconic characters and the stories they feature in (it helps, of course, that superheroes are the current kings and queens of blockbuster cinema). My eldest, Harvey, is now ready to offer perhaps more innocent, honest critiques of comics he's enjoyed than can be found in and amongst my regularly scheduled middle-aged musings...

29 Jan 2019

On The Pull 30/01/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Jo S: A plump and tasty list this week promises some luscious delights with some of my regular favourites being joined by some very tempting new delicacies. Starting with ends; three titles in my list are closing a story arc: Marvel Knights: 20th #6 promises that the big secret that has been confounding our list of recently reawoken heroes will finally break open. Cates and his team have done a great job of keeping the intrigue alive in this series and, though I’ve found the variety of artwork more inconsistent than ideal, I’m excited for the denouement. Infinite Dark’s sci-fi chops have been evident throughout this intelligent, deep space mystery: the sabotaged AI theme has been covered before but Ryan Cady has kept it fresh with a focus on the unreliability of the mind and the notion that it is impossible to tell sometimes whether the monster is inside or outside one’s own consciousness. My ‘last last’ is Skyward: my concerns that the low-gravity concept that founds this story would become an annoying gimmick have been completely dispelled as Joe Henderson weaves a detailed tale of a society forced to restructure following a planet-wide change to basic physics, seen through the eyes of the daughter of one of the architects of the change. Willa is such an appealing character and the art in this series so graceful, I will miss this on my list and hope that it will make a return.

With three titles about to drop from my list, I’m starting already to look ahead at what might take their place in the week in coming months. Kieron Gillen’s new outset Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1 would probably not have caught my eye were it not for my soft spot for Caspar Wijngaard’s art. Wijngaard stole my heart with the beautifully dreamy Angelic series and I look forward to seeing his work in the superhero genre, especially recalcitrant Cannon, who seems doomed to save a world he loathes.

27 Jan 2019

Min Reviews 27/01/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

This week we welcome Mike S back onto the reviewing team.

NAOMI #1
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Art: Jamal Campbell
DC $3.99

Matt C: No, it's not the beginning of a line of forename-monikered titles (no Matthew #1 on the horizon, unfortunately) but a book under the umbrella of Bendis' 'Wonder Comics', which is aiming more squarely at a younger demographic. And - no surprises - I don't fit into the category (not by a long shot) but something about the impressively choreographed, dynamic artwork from Jamal Campbell in some previews pages grabbed my attention. The entire issue is a visual mix of style, confidence and emotion (the Superman scenes are superbly framed). This guy's got the chops. Bendis and Walker share scripting duties but there's a definite sense of this being in the former's wheelhouse, the rhythm of the patter flowing believably, revealing character traits along the way. It's positioning itself as a big DC Universe mystery, and that's certainly a major hook, but there's nothing mysterious about the quality of the debut: in every panel it's blatantly obvious that this is start of something special. 8/10

22 Jan 2019

On The Pull 23/01/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Matt C: I really bought into the rejigged version of Guardians Of Galaxy that launched back in 2008, having been thoroughly taken with what writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning had been doing with Marvel's cosmic pantheon in titles such as Annihilation and Nova at the time, but after they departed I followed suit, and even the brilliance of James Gunn's cinematic iteration of the characters in two sterling entries to the MCU failed to keep me on board with the comics as various other creators did their thing. I'm ready to come back though, and that's primarily down to the creative team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, who had such a barnstorming stint on Thanos (which, of course, introduced us to the thrilling madness of Cosmic Ghost Rider). They convinced me they can go full throttle on intergalactic adventures so I'm there for the latest relaunch.

That's Marvel's big book of the week but over at DC it seems Brian Michael Bendis is continuing to make his presence felt at the publisher. We've been singing the praises of both Pearl and Cover here since they launched but, alongside the latest instalments of both those series, this Wednesday also sees a new book in the form of Naomi #1. This isn't a Jinxworld title - it's set in the DC Universe and is released under the 'Wonder Comics' banner, which is Bendis' place to produce teen-oriented content; clearly I'm not the target market for this, but I'm curious all the same after spotting a few preview pages. DC also have the latest issue of Batman, and we're never going to stop raving about that title, not until everyone is picking it up, and to be honest, not even then!

20 Jan 2019

Mini Reviews 20/01/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

DAYS OF HATE #12
Writer: Aleš Kot
Art: Danijel Žeželj & Jordie Bellaire
Image $3.99

Jo S: The final issue of this masterpiece is a triumph of subtlety, a song to hope, and an expression of devastation all in one quiet, perfect package. Arvid, alone again following the destruction, physical and metaphorical, of the other three cornerstones of this story, travels ‘home’ - the meaning of this simple word now heavy with altered interpretation. Kot, Žeželj and Bellaire have together created something at once spectacular and frighteningly real: the crumpling of Arvid's face as the content of his neighbour's cellar is revealed, the knowing stare of a lone coyote in the dark, the images of normality masking recent agonising memories of horror; all are rendered with such sensitivity that it's hard to understand how individual people could be so in sync, so connected, as to communicate their intent to each other. Kot's writing is bold - he doesn't shy away from digging at current political influence and this has given the story an edgy feel throughout, disconcerting and destabilising. Žeželj’s page structure astonishes - where he wants to show the mundane, necessary explicative conversations, he uses a nine panel grid; in other places, jagged vertical sections intensify the claustrophobia and fear; in another full page, a peaceful scene of birds rising from tree branches is punctured by a tight focus on faces at a critical point of decision. This is a masterpiece of storytelling and creativity. 10/10