24 Feb 2008

Mini Reviews 24/2/2008

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 weeks' releases, mixing the good with the not so good.

Writer: Matt Wagner
Art: Francesco Francavilla
Dynamite Entertainment $3.50

Matt C: This was very cool indeed. Even if you’re ‘new’ to the character of Zorro he’ll seem very familiar – as one of the original masked heroes of pulp literature he gave the inspiration for numerous fictional successors - including Batman - who in turn provided the template for many of characters we read about today. An innate sense of truth and justice has become a genre staple so you’ll instantly know where you stand with this sword-wielding hero. Wagner and Francavilla brilliantly capture both Zorro’s childhood roots and his current status as an avenging “devil from hell” making this a highly recommendable debut. 8/10

Writer: Paul Dini w/ Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Scott Kolins
DC $2.99

Matt T: As every thread is being wrapped up in a relatively convenient - and at times annoying - manner, the possible conclusion to this book is becoming more murky. What is Darkseid doing? Did we really need 52 issues to find out he’s doing the same bloody thing as he always does? How many coincidences does it take to get every major character in Countdown in the same place at the same time? The more this book goes on, the more I wish DC had stopped with 52. 4/10

Matt C: Onto the final ten issues and it’s pretty clear this series is beyond saving. It’s become such a convoluted mess that it seems pointless to even question the logic – I’d love to know exactly why Desaad thinks the Piper (of all people!) can channel the anti-life equation with his music, but I doubt the writers could give me a reason, or at least a reason that made any sense. The back-up “Origin of Harley Quinn” is lovingly rendered by Bruce Timm, but two pages of enjoyment can’t redeem the preceding twenty pages of crap. 2/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Joe Madureira
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: What a difference a year makes. Gone is the witty story telling, excellent characterisation and slow paced build-up from the last two Ultimates runs, replaced with flash-bang ‘look at me!’ set pieces. Wolverine fighting a bloody dinosaur? Seriously? 3/10

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Salvador Larroca
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: A hat trick for Guggenheim & Larroca as they conclude what’s been the most flat-out fun Spidey story I’ve read in a long time. We’ve still got two more creative teams to test out over the next couple of months and if they can match what Guggenheim and – to a lesser extent – Slott have been doing with the character so far then Amazing will remain a must-buy for the foreseeable future. 8/10

Matt T: Against all odds, this book keeps ticking on, and there’s a fair few surprises in it too. The identity of Jackpot is becoming interesting so I hope this issue's reveal isn’t a red herring. I liked the battle with Menace and, in spite of it being a thoroughly modern setting, there’s a pleasingly retro feel to Spidey at the mo. 8/10

Writers: Sergio Aragon├ęs & Mark Evanier
Art: Mike Ploog & Mark Farmer
DC $2.99

Matt C: The new creative team begins their run, and while I’m not going to stop missing Darwyn Cooke anytime soon, these guys certainly know how to craft a satisfying tale. Aragon├ęs, Evanier and Ploog have all been in the business for a long time, and it’s crystal clear from this issue how much they revere Will Eisner’s creation. Their take on the character is closer in spirit (sorry!) to the original tales than Cooke’s unique spin, but it works extremely well, capturing the wit and sense of fun that’ll be recognizable to anyone who’s perused the Eisner classics. I’m not too keen on the phrase “jumping on point”, but if you haven’t had a look at this series yet, this is a perfect opportunity to give it a shot. 7/10

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Art: Paul Winslade
DC $2.99

Matt T: A bit of a sad ending, but this book needs a shot in the arm. The recent arc has been fine, but the overall feel has been a bit directionless and lacks the fun of the issues before it. Hopefully the new team will give this book the push it requires. 7/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mark Bagley, Marko Djurdjevic, Danny Miki, Allen Martinez & Victor Olazaba
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Other than salivating over some beautiful Bagley art, I thought this issue had a wonderfully old-school feel to it. Doom popping up can be annoyingly theatrical in some cases, but he’s more than a pantomime villain here. The next issue looks interesting too. 8/10

Matt C: Following an evocative first three pages, beautifully painted by Marko Djurdjevic, it’s back to business as usual: another huge, super-powered brawl, this time in Latveria. While Bagley gets the chance to flex his artistic muscles for not one, not two, but three (!) consecutive splash pages, there’s just too little in the way of plot on offer and, as happens all too frequently, Bendis ignores logic in favour of spectacle as SHEILD and the Avengers bulldoze their way into a sovereign nation. Still, it’s got Doom in it – always a bonus – and the stylistic set-up for the next issue looks intriguing and will hopefully turn out to be more than just a gimmick. 6/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Nick Dragotta, Mike Allred, Laura Allred, Russ Heath, Lewis LaRosa, Stefano Gaudiano, Matt Hollingsworth & Mitch Breitweiser
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I was expecting some straight-up pulp heroics featuring Orson Randall and the Confederates if the Curious, but instead got a story focused on the Golden Age Iron Fist’s relationship with the Prince of Orphans. This ties it closely with the events in the monthly book, which is great, but I was craving a more self-contained Indiana Jones style action adventure! Wasn’t sure about the decision to use four different art teams to denote different time periods – it’s not that any of them were bad, I just felt that some of the styles were too dissimilar for what were relatively short jumps forward in time. This is unquestionably an essential read for fans of the regular series, I was just anticipating something a little different! 7/10

Writer: Christina Z
Art: Mukesh Singh
Virgin $2.99

Matt T: Yes, I know what you’re thinking. And you’d be wrong. This isn’t porn, nor is it filled with titillating images of girls with ludicrously over inflated breasts. Well, no more than the average comic anyway. The art is truly stunning in places (hold onto your innuendos please!) but the story is far too confusing, and could have done with some more explanation as to what this girl tuned into the ‘other side’ is fighting, and why. Other than that, a pleasant surprise. 7/10

Writers: Daniel & Charles Knauf
Art: Robert De La Torre
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Since Tony Stark makes an appearance in practically every other Marvel comic on the stands, it often seems like his own book gets lost in the mix. That’s a shame because the Knauf’s have made excellent use of Stark’s new position as Director of SHIELD, imbuing the characters and situations with an intelligence and complexity that makes this a gripping read every month. 8/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Ed McGuiness
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Resembling an episode of Lost, this book has started throwing up more questions than answers. The new Hulk seems to purposely switch between a snarling ogre and thoughtful manipulator, and he seems to be able to crash into SHIELD headquarters without breaking sweat. So far I’m confused, but intrigued. 7/10


Unknown said...

I took a look at Zorro and wasn't too keen on the artwork. By the sounds of Matt's review I should have looked a little closer! Just in case anyone fancies a look at some Manhua (the Chinese equivalent of Manga) there's going to be an exhibition on in London from the 7th-11th of March. Looks bloody good; www.chinanow.org.uk/events

Matt Clark said...

"...looked a little closer..." Any chance your eyesight's been damaged by spending too much time with the Jenna Jameson comic?!? :)

Anonymous said...

This is probably a sign of my advancing years, and possibly one of those "The Beatles? Who are the Beatles?" moments popularised by High Court Judges, but I have to admit I've never heard of Jenna Jameson before. Popular culture has obviously driven by and left me in the gutter with my J G Ballard novels. I'm guessing from the comments and the cover shot, some brainless Jordan-like model, who scribbled a character proposal on a napkin at some high flying restaurant, and that's the limit of her contribution to the ongoing title, but I could be wrong.

- Rob

Unknown said...

Oi! I read (then re-read, had a little rest, and re-read again) the comic for the benefit of this site alone. However, if Ms Jameson would like to discuss the review in more detail please feel free to contact the site. Or e-mail me direct. Or phone.

Matt Clark said...

Rob's never heard of Jenna Jameson?! Simply type her name into Google, my friend, and I'm sure you'll get a better idea of who she is from the multitude of left-handed websites the search throws up!!

Unknown said...

Best not click on the images if you're at work. Some of them are a little bit racy. And I'm a little concerned that this is the most comments we've managed since BND. I'm going to take a look on this week's previews and see if Sam Fox has managed to publish anything.

Anonymous said...

Obviously I could do that Matt, in much the same way I could search for google references to 'Eastenders' and 'Football' but my lack of interest in either subject precludes me doing so. Not knowing who Jenna Jameson is, doesn't naturally equate to wanting to know who she is! :)



Matt Clark said...

Well seeing as you're being lazy, let's just say that Ms Jameson is known as "the world's most famous porn star"! Perhaps you've already seen some of her work without realizing!! ;)