27 Jan 2008

Mini Reviews 27/1/2008

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.


X-MEN #207
Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend w/ Victor Olazaba, Jon Sibal & Al Vey
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Messiah Compex ends on a high note in terms of story telling, with a bloody great fight involving X-Men young and old. It’s nice to see some hefty implications coming out of this book as well, with a killer final few panels in what has been the best, and least hyped, Marvel crossover in a fair while. 8/10

Matt C: There are a couple of nice moments with Cable and Cyclops but the final chapter of Messiah Complex ends rather abruptly leaving you thinking, “Is that it?”. There’s a death of a major character which doesn’t shock in any way (probably because we know it won’t stick) and overall the entire crossover seemed like a succession of fruitless fight scenes with the occasion blip of excitement. The usual criticism of X-crossovers works here too: there’s just too much stuff that’ll fly over the heads of casual readers. Hardcore fans probably lapped this up, but although certain chapters stood out, I can’t really muster much enthusiasm for what comes next. 5/10


FREDDY VS JASON VS ASH #4
Writer: James Kuhoric
Art: Jason Craig
Wildstorm $2.99


Matt T: Rather annoyingly I missed the last instalment, but picked it up this week along with #4. Both issues keep the gorey fun up and prove that Freddy Krueger is an entertaining anti-hero in any medium. The worst part? There are only two issues left. 9/10


JOHNNY HIRO #3
Writer: Fred Chao
Art: Fred Chao
Adhouse Books $2.95


Matt C: There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to fly the nest and set up a home of his own. It’s never easy, finding a job that’ll pay the rent and that’ll give you enough time to spend with your girlfriend. Be thankful you’re not Johnny Hiro though, because not only does he have to contend with these problems on his journey into adulthood he’s also got to deal with the occasional appearance of a city destroying monster or a band of disgruntled ex search-engine employees who’ve now taken up the ways of the samurai. This is what I love about comics – it’s a medium that can withstand the meshing of wholly different genres, bolting together realism with surrealism, and the end product can turn into something wonderful. Johnny Hiro is one of those books. An indie gem. 8/10


THE ULTIMATES 3 #2
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Joe Madureira & Christian Lichtner
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Is it just me or does Jeph Loeb just want to turn this book into the Avengers and have done with it? It seems that all Millar and Hitch’s work is being erased for far broader and less interesting characters -twisting Thor round to start sounding like his standard-universe counterpart is just lazy, and annoying. And honestly, how crap must the Ultimates be if they get ambushed so frequently? 5/10


YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Hmmm…… I really expected more from this. This is possibly the weakest Cap-related tale I’ve read from Brubaker. It doesn’t add much to the characters that we didn’t already know and the overriding impression is that this series was generated simply to remind us that these super-powered kids exist until Volume 2 comes out (whenever that may be). A perfunctory beginning to this mini – I think I’ll be skipping the rest. 5/10

Matt T: I was a bit shocked when I found out who the writer of this book was, as the characterisation of the Winter Soldier that turns up here seems completely inconsistent with Captain America at the moment. This was one of those ‘leads into a reunion’ books that fills in a few blanks, but is generally pointless and offers little to readers who already know the character. 4/10


DAN DARE #3
Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Gary Erskine
Virgin $2.99


Matt T: This is a bit better, and definitely less wishy-washy than last time. There’s a real feeling of claustrophobia, and some respectful nods to the past. Our hero needs to get off planet soon and start fighting the Mekon to avoid falling into sci-fi movie clich├ęs though. 7/10


SHE-HULK #25
Writer: Peter David
Art: Shawn Moll & Victor Olazaba
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: There was a time when I would mount my soapbox to convince all and sundry that She-Hulk was an absolutely essential purchase. I’ll admit the quality took a dip with Dan Slott’s second volume of the title, but it was still a witty read and, well, as Shulkie has always been my fav female character it would take a lot to get me to quit reading her adventures. Unfortunately the day has finally come when I have to let her go – after reading #25 I have to accept that this new direction isn’t working for me. It’s not bad, it’s just not grabbing me any more. If young Miss Walters is out there somewhere, breaking the fourth wall, then this is for her: “I’m sorry Jen. It’s not you, it’s me. We’ve been drifting apart for a while and now it’s time to go our separate ways. This isn’t the end though – sooner or later I’ll come back to you, but for now it’s time to say farewell”. 5/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #548
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Steve McNiven & Dexter Vines
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Ignoring the things that happened a couple of issues ago, this was a decent read with an enjoyable story. Spidey sounds and acts like Spidey, the art is good and there’s an intriguing plot thread. And I’m not going to get annoyed about the fact that this could have happened without the “Devil” ruining everything. 8/10

Matt C: I think they dropped the ball a bit with this issue. I’ve enjoyed the previous two instalments but this final chapter of the first relaunch arc was an extremely generic, by-the-numbers Spidey tale. Mr Negative initially looked like he could turn into a memorable nemesis but by the end he came across as indistinguishable from all the other second-rate chancers that take a pop at the wallcrawler. Even the art looked a little rushed this time. I’m sticking around to see what Guggenheim does in the next issue but I now feel a bit less optimistic about this brand new day. 5/10


COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #14
Writer: Paul Dini w/ Tony Bedard
Art: Pete Woods & Tom Derenick
DC $2.99


Matt T: Concentrating on one thread massively helps this book, and accordingly this week’s issue is one of the better ones involving the Challengers. Monarch also does a little more than spout standard villain dialogue, and the run up to the Final Crisis should be entertaining. 7/10


BLUE BEETLE #23
Writer: John Rogers
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
DC $2.99


Matt T: This book seems to change direction pretty rapidly, but the overall Reach storyline is gathering a bit of pace and, for the first time in a while, the title character is in a fair bit of trouble by the end. Hopefully the next issue will keep it up and end out the arc in an explosive fashion. 8/10


THE ORDER #7
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Barry Kitson & Jon Sibal
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Just as it’s developing into one on the best books they’re putting out, Marvel decides to cancel The Order. Real smart move, guys. There are a few more issues to go before it disappears from our shelves so I’m going to have to enjoy it while I can. Most of the meat of #7 is made up of an extended conversation between Anthem and Namor, with the rest concentrating on the panic in the streets of San Francisco. As good as the city scenes are, it’s watching the Sub-Mariner trying to bat down his verbal opponent with his infamous arrogance that’s the unquestionable highlight. It doesn’t quite jibe with the events in the recent Namor mini-series (isn’t he now shacked up in Latveria with Doc Doom?) but I’m prepared to let that slide due to the strength of the writing here. I’ll be sad to see this book go. 8/10


ASTONISHING X-MEN #24
Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: John Cassaday
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: God I want this to end. Not because it’s poorly written, or drawn, but it’s taking so bloody long I keep forgetting what’s going on. Breakworld is either broken or getting broken, and the various agents and aliens are doing their thing. Whedon has a great handle on the characters, but he should be on a book that doesn’t need to be so regular. 7/10


ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #50
Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Tyler Kirkham & Sal Regla
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Just when we thought it was safe for the UFF to start being all fun, the Thanos angle is back. I don’t hate it, but it was one of the most confusing and, in my opinion, weakest UFF stories so far. They need to go off adventuring before New York gets kidnapped again. 7/10

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