13 Jan 2008

Mini Reviews 13/1/2008

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.

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Steve McNiven & Dexter Vines
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Damn. I had my knives sharpened ready to tear this sucker to pieces - I was convinced that there was absolutely no way Marvel would get me back on their side after the One More Day debacle. But, while I walked into to this ready to hate, I came out the other end having enjoyed it quite a bit. There’re still way too many questions left unanswered following Mephisto’s marriage-dissolving magic trick (is Spidey still an Avenger?) but, ignoring all that, this is an entertaining Spider-Man story, even if it isn’t that different from stuff being published 30-odd years ago. Props to Slott then for not only making me forget - albeit momentarily - the nonsense that came before, but also for ensuring I’ll be back next issue. 7/10

Matt T: Brace yourselves people, the follow up to the most talked about comic in this site’s fledgling existence is here. And…..I didn’t hate it. As crazy as it sounds, as an isolated comic this wasn’t terrible. It did seem like a part of the movie continuity than the comic version, painting history in broad strokes rather than going into detail, and introducing plenty of new characters to boot. There is some enjoyment to be had from the new love interest(s) and the murky details of Harry Osbourn’s ‘resurrection’ aren’t likely to go away any time soon. Still, the backup stories are pretty crap and the overbearing feeling of a lazy creative team trying to go back to the Peter Parker they grew up with rather than attempting to develop the existing one. Had this been twenty years ago, ASM #546 would have been a decent story of down-on-his-luck still-single Peter Parker. But it’s 2008, and this is just a poor editorial decision. 6/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Ed McGuiness & Dexter Vines
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Since his recent return to Marvel I’ve been really disappointed with Jeph Loeb’s output, so I wasn’t really expecting to like this at all. The good news is that it’s not terrible: there’s some decent character work and McGuiness’ art is rather fine. The bad news is, while it may not be terrible, it’s not brilliant either, it’s just a bit average and not really a book that I think I’ll be pursuing. 6/10

Matt T: One of the most talked about new(ish) launches in recent history starts with a bit of a mystery, which always grabs my interest. The herrings are of a similar colour to the new Hulk, although there are some hefty hints that hopefully aren’t as obvious as they seem to the crimson behemoth’s non-angry identity. One thing’s for sure, this new Hulk isn’t taking any prisoners, and there wasn’t a ‘SMASH’ to be heard anywhere. 8/10

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Chris Weston & Garry Leach
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: An outstanding first issue, which doesn’t dwell on trying to introduce characters (thank God for the internet!) but manages to establish personalities and some semblance of a future plot without ruining the pacing. The different looks - not just in costume -of the characters and gritty art really help give the comic something of a timeless feel, and the ending hints at an excellent story for the next eleven issues. Count me hooked. 9/10

Matt C: Straczynski’s always been good at handling a large cast and providing them with distinct personalities, and this reminds more of the likes of Rising Stars and Supreme Power than his more regular superhero fare. I have been somewhat undecided by Weston’s art in the past but it most definitely works here, his style perfectly suited to these forgotten Golden Age heroes. While it may take place in present-day Marvel continuity, as long as it steers clear of it as much as possible then this series has a lot of promise. And anyway, how often do you get to see a Nazi copping a feel of an unconscious superheroine in comics these days?! 7/10

Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Art: Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone
DC $2.99

Matt C: This tale of fate, love and missed opportunities is wonderfully written and beautifully drawn. From the cover onwards, every page, every panel, is an exquisite work of art. It’s also Cooke’s final issue on the series. I can pretty much guarantee that the next creative team – no matter how good they are – won’t come close to watching the perfection Cooke’s achieved during his tenure. 10/10

Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Scott Hampton
DC $2.99

Matt T: At times, it’s painfully easy to see the intended audience of a comic. The fans of My Chemical Romance and various other emo bands must be rejoicing in their black walled rooms through massive fringes while watching The Crow on repeat, as a comic that finally understands them has appeared. Call me cynical, but the dark protector of the first few issues seems to have been replaced by an emotionally confused teenager. Hopefully the gothic-tinged horror will return, as a romantic comedy this book ain’t. 5/10

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Rags Morales & Michael Bair
DC $2.99

Matt C: Peter Tomasi first popped up on my radar with the excellent, underrated mini, The Light Brigade. Since stepping down as a senior DC editor and taking up writing full time he’s impressed with the bleak and disturbing 52 spin-off, Black Adam: The Dark Age. The strength of his writing on both these books is enough that I’m always willing to check out anything new he tackles. His skills don’t desert him on his first issue of Nightwing but even he can’t convince me to pick up the book on a regular basis. I like Dick Grayson, but I guess I prefer him as a supporting character or part of an ensemble cast – his solo adventures don’t generate enough interest for me. If you’re a fan of the character you should be well pleased by this issue though. 6/10

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason, Carlos Magno, Prentis Rollins, Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Rodney Ramos & Rebecca Buchman
DC $2.99

Matt C: Tomasi takes the reigns of another title this week and it’s much more up my street. There’s some nice character interplay between the Earth Lanterns and Tomasi even manages to make Mongul interesting. This, along with his stint on Black Adam, proves that he has a knack of taking villainous individuals and fleshing them out, giving them purpose rather than just having a moustache-twirling bad guy there for no other reason than to have his ass handed to him by the good guy. I’d given up on Green Lantern Corps quite early in this run but this was good enough for me to give the series another shot. 7/10

Writer: John Rozum
Art: Chee
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt C: There are a lot of great high-concept comics out there at the moment and here’s another one to join the party: the premise of the The Foundation is that there’s a secret organization who exist to ensure that Nostradamus’ predictions come true. This debut issue focuses on one member of the Foundation, Valentine, who struggles with the ethical and moral implications of preventing one man from boarding a passenger jet that Valentine knows is destined to crash. Whatever this man has in his future, does it justify the sacrifice of every other person on the plane? This book is yet another reason why Boom! are definitely a company that you need to keep your eye on. 7/10

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Phil Noto
Image $2.99

Matt C: Not quite as strong as the debut but still a very good read and certainly an indication that the quality level will remain consistent throughout the entire series. Smart writing, effective action sequences coupled with the central character’s world-weariness make this well worth seeking out. 8/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mark Bagley & Danny Miki
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Thank God that Bendis has either been listening to those who hate the thought bubbles, or couldn’t be bothered to do them all, because having them at a minimum has helped this issue massively. The dialogue still smacks of a far too self-aware attempt at witty banter, but the reasoning behind a new member joining seems sound, and Stark is beginning to be less of a Doom clone and far more human. The continuity issues with New Avengers are still bloody annoying though. 7/10

Matt C: You know what? That was actually pretty good! At least, that was my initial gut reaction before I started thinking over what I’d just read. And, yes, now it’s Tony Stark’s turn to buy into all this One Skrull = Invasion idiocy. Spider-Woman convinces him by showing him the corpse of the Elektra-Skrull before following with: “Wolverine thinks this means that we’re at war. That the Skrulls have invaded.” Oh, well that’s alright then! If Wolverine says it’s invasion then it must be true! Forget about investigating further and discovering more proof to back that claim up, just accept it at face value! It’s just sloppy writing.

But let’s ignore all that and go back to what my gut was telling me. This is easily the best Bendis Avengers book in a long while even though we already know how it’s going to end thanks to having seen it all in New Avengers a couple of months ago (but let’s not get into that right now!). On top of that, although I’ve been bitching about the thought bubbles recently, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Ares’ salacious look at Jessica Drew and the accompanying, “I will have you, fair creature.7/10

Writer: Paul Dini w/ Tony Bedard
Art: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
DC $2.99

Matt T: Another strong(ish) issue of Countdown, which is all the better for having found Ray Palmer. The worrying lack of standout characters and interesting plots doesn’t bode well though, and Piper and Trickster need to be back sooner rather than later. 7/10

Matt C: So let’s check out that first double-page spread to see what this issue has in store for us: a bunch of characters nobody really cares about beating the shit out of each other on an alternate Earth that’ll probably be wiped out of the DC Universe in a few months time. Excuse me while I fail to get excited. 2/10

Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Stefano Caselli & Daniele Rudoni
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: The best Avengers book. By a loooooong shot. Some very interesting characters and great action are punctuated by the new Ant-Man, who’s pretty much as far from a super-hero as it possible to be without going to the other side. This book has a great feel, an individual look and at least five killer plots on the go at once. 9/10


Unknown said...

As Matt rightfully pointed out to me Avenger's initiative did come out last week, but I missed it, so before anyone doubts my journalistic integrity I thought I'd make the ultra-lame excuse of forgetting to tell Andy to put it on my list. Still, it was bloody good so I thought it deserved a mention.

Matt Clark said...

Better late than never!

We seem to be having totally different reactions to Countdown at the moment. Any other book and I'd drop it but I've already gone past the point of no return having got so many issues already! Please, don't anyone tell me how much I would have spent on the series as a whole!

Unknown said...

I think I hear the faint sound of Rob getting his calculator out....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review of Foundation. Please contact me through the BOOM! website and I will get you guys on our press list which will provide you with PDF review copies of all our books!


Chip Mosher
Marketing and Sales Director
BOOM! Studios

Anonymous said...

Matt: that's the 'collecting' Goblin inside you speaking re: Countdown. 'Full set... full set... gotta have a full set!'

Just think how many back issus of Savage Sword of Conan you could buy with all that money you spend on Countdown titles and spin offs? Well, obviously not very many of the early ones... but once past issue 20 you could pick up some bargains...

- Rob

Matt Clark said...

Matt: that's the 'collecting' Goblin inside you speaking re: Countdown. 'Full set... full set... gotta have a full set!'

I guess that's a small part of it but mostly it's the vain hope that the series will improve and something "important" will happen!