9 Dec 2007

Mini Reviews 9/12/2007

None of us have time to review all the comics we get every week as there are just too damn many of them! Instead, we try and provide a snapshot of the week's releases, mixing the good with the not so good.

This week sees the return of The Ultimates and a whole heap of No. 1s......


THE ULTIMATES 3 #1
Writer: Jeph Leob
Art: Joe Madureira
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I’ve pretty much given up on the whole Ultimate line (with the exception of Ultimate Spider-Man) but I held out hope that Loeb and Madureira would at least take this title halfway towards the heights Millar & Hitch’s run reached. Sadly, it doesn’t even get that far. You get the impression that Loeb is trying just a little too hard when the first page features the Ultimates watching a leaked sextape of Tony Stark & Black Widow. It doesn’t end there though – rather than continuing to hint that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s relationship is slightly suspect, here all doubts that they're engaged in incest evaporate. And the rest of the Ultimates seem to be fine with that. Seriously….. WTF?! Barring the crass attempts to make this book seem more “adult” the main story doesn’t make a great deal of sense and it’s certainly not helped by the unnecessarily murky colouring of Madureira’s artwork. If this is the standard we’ll come to expect, count me out. 3/10

Matt T: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Where is the pacing, real-world grounding and superb dialogue that made the last two series so good? This issue feels like another mainstream Avengers book, not something set in the Ultimate universe. The art is too OTT, the story tries too hard to impress, and the characterisation seems way off. Hopefully #2 reigns it in, but so far I’m missing Millar and Hitch big time. 5/10


NORTHLANDERS #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: David Gianfelice
DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt C: It’s well written, the art suits the period setting very well but overall it didn’t grab me the way I’d hoped. I’m all up for tales of bulked up men with swords and this seems to be a pretty solid premise, but I did find the contemporised dialogue in places jarring. I guess if you’re a fan of Wood’s stuff you should probably check this out, but personally I think I’ll give it a miss, although I may check out the trade down the line. 6/10


WORLD WAR HULK: AFTERSMASH #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Rafa Sandoval & Vicente Cifuentes
Marvel $3.99

Matt T
: Just like the various Civil War one shots, Aftersmash is an intro to the spinoff stories preparing to hit in the next few months. I have to say it was an enjoyable read wrapped in a bit of callous marketing, with Incredible Hercules looking to be a fun book and a fair few other characters turning up to kick ass. The art was a bit hit and miss, but the story shot along at a decent pace and I wasn’t bored by the end. 7/10


THE INFINITE HORIZON #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Phil Noto
Image $2.99

Matt C
: A very impressive first issue of this “re-imagining of Homer’s The Odyssey” set in the Middle East of the near future. Noto’s sparse artwork suits the terrain, and the central character’s general air of resignation to the futility of America’s incursions into the Arab world is palpable. It may be downbeat but it’s a thoroughly engrossing read. Recommended. 8/10


AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE ANNUAL #1
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Various
Marvel $3.99

Matt T
: Writers of Annuals, take note. This is not a random, unrelated story or collection of pointless side tracks - the Initiative Annual provides useful backstory and other elements that would have ruined the pacing of the normal book. Most of the art, except the final story, is up to scratch, and there's plenty of action and intrigue afoot. If only every one-shot was the same. 8/10


COUNTDOWN: ARENA #1
Writer: Keith Champagne
Art: Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens
DC $3.99

Matt T
: Why do we need another Countdown spinoff? Off the back of this issue, I have no idea. The concept is…. interesting, but the art is poor and the conclusion will probably be revealed in Countdown in a few weeks. It’s nice to see some Elsewolrds characters squaring off, but by the end I found myself asking ‘What’s the point?’ 6/10

Matt C: There are too many Countdown titles on the shelves as it is but this one takes the award for Most Pointless Countdown Book. It’s the kind of thing fanboys might bitch about on some forum, arguing which Elseworlds version of Batman would win in a tussle, and that’s the level it should stay at. Why then did DC think it was a good idea to take this throwaway concept and turn it into a comic? Because, honestly, this is the stupidest book I’ve read all year. If you’re after characterisation and logic look elsewhere because here you’ll find some utterly nonsensical plotting and some disappointing art from the usually reliable McDaniel. Skip it. 1/10



THE TWELVE #0
Writer: Various
Art: Various
Marvel $2.99

Matt T
: A preview issue with a twist, in that three of the out-of-copyright characters are profiled in their own Golden Age origin stories. This trip down memory lane serves as a reminder how much story had to be crammed into 5 or 6 pages in those days. The sneak peek at the first issue looks excellent, with some fantastic art and plenty of twists in store. 8/10



UNCANNY X-MEN #493
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Billy Tan & Danny Miki w/ Allen Martinez
Marvel $2.99

Matt T
: Where the last Uncanny had that family banter that was typically X-Men, this issue has the madcap throwdown action that also carries the classic flavour. Everyone piles in, and there isn’t much letup, which is just fine by me! Tan does stirling work as usual, and the ending looks to setup those X-Force previews that have been creating some buzz. The story was a little confusing, mainly because I’m not getting all 330 X books out at the moment, but the action was enough to keep me interested. 7/10


ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST #2
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Tom Raney & Scott
Marvel $2.99

Matt C
: Absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed the original Annihilation mini a lot, but this is already showing signs that it will outclass it in every respect. Abnett & Lanning seem to juggle their extensive cast with ease to give us a hugely satisfying and thrilling space adventure. If you like a bit of Marvel cosmic action it doesn’t get any better than this. 9/10


COUNTDOWN #21
Writer: Paul Dini w/ Sean McKeever
Art: Jamal Igle & Mark McKenna
DC $2.99

Matt T
: The limited time spent with Piper and Trickster proves it’s by far the best story, and the extra twist shows it still has plenty to run. Harley and Holly seem to be making little impact, the ‘Challengers’ story is nothing more than an introduction to potential spinoffs, and I’ve stopped caring about Brother Eye and Karate Kid. 6/10


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #15
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Art: Ed Benes & Sandra Hope
DC $2.99

Matt T
: In this consistent series yet another standout issue, with a great battle between the League and their opposite numbers in the Injustice incarnation. Lex Luthor is being all evil and cryptic, Superman tips the scales (as he always does) and there’s a brand new addition at the end. The art is top notch, and the story never falters. What more could you want from a JLA book? 9/10


RESURRECTION #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: David Dumeer
Oni Press $3.50

Matt C
: An interesting premise: here’s what happens after an alien invasion when the survivors are left to pick up the pieces. Guggenheim gives us the beginnings of what could potentially be a pretty neat slab of sci-fi storytelling. I haven’t particularly warmed to the characters yet but I’m willing to stick around to see where this is headed. 7/10


DYNAMO 5 #9
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Mahmud A. Asrar
Image $2.99

Matt T
: A slower paced issue, but nonetheless entertaining. It doesn’t feel much like the main arc was building to much at the start of this issue, but by the end there seems to be some dark clouds looming for the Dynamo kids. A decent fill out of one the more cliched characters, but generally a solid issue. 8/10


X-MEN: DIE BY THE SWORD #4
Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Cafu
Marvel $2.99

Matt T
: This Exiles/Excalibur cross over is ticking along, but it seems to be dragging out what should have been a far shorter arc. The new books to spin from this are the means to an end, and it's starting to feel a little stale. The final issue should be action packed, but it’ll still be one issue too many. 6/10

3 comments:

Matt T said...

I'm starting to think my reviews are far too nice. My scores are way too positive at the mo! If Ultimates 3 no2 is pap again I might have to break into the sub 5 out of 10!

The Acrobatic Flea said...

I think the reviews are very well balanced and I enjoy reading them whenever they are posted.

I was so looking forward to Ultimates 3, but now I'm having second thoughts!

Rob Nott said...

I feel compelled to add a few comments of my own on the subject of issue one of the new series of The Ultimates that I read this evening. When a successful writer/artist team hands over a title to fresh hands they obviously wish their successors well in public, but in secret they obviously hope that the new run doesn't overshadow theirs. In which case Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch must be laughing like hysterical hyenas on E right now on the strength of this debut issue. Quite honestly I could not believe that what I read had been okayed by Marvel editorial. Matt's review (3/10) probably gives it two marks more than it deserves. On reflection there is literally nothing about the issue that I like. Nothing. Zero. It's a considerable achievement to write and draw a comic that fails on every single creative level I can think of. I would go as far as to say that this is my least favourite single comic book of all time. A position that until this evening was occupied by the first Rob Liefeld issue of the 'Heroes Reborn' Captain America run. And to think volumes one and two of this title ranked alongside my favourite comics of all time. How the mighty have fallen...