16 Mar 2008

Mini Reviews 16/3/2008

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: Mark Millar
Art: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Whenever Messrs Hitch and Millar are together it seems that the pacing of a story takes a hit, with not much happening in the main earth evacuation plot until the last few pages. Hopefully things will happen a little quicker than in The Ultimates, as those promo images looked amazing but have only been hinted at in the comic. 7/10

Matt C: Two issues in, and several problems are already beginning to manifest. First, let’s take a look at the art: I let it slide last time, but this is nowhere near Hitch’s best work. Sure, the backgrounds are exquisitely detailed, but it’s the characters themselves that look particularly, well, sloppy. Anyone else and it’d be acceptable, but Hitch is capable of far better. I dug out my copy of the over-sized JLA: Heaven’s Ladder to check I wasn’t being too harsh on the guy, but taking a look through the sumptuous pages in that book confirmed I was right to be critical.

Secondly, the story: I’m a bit concerned that a book going for a more “realistic” take on the FF expects us to buy that a group of the world’s wealthiest men had the resources to set up a company to create an exact replica of Earth as well as cure most known diseases in a parallel dimension! And the worlds supposedly smartest man, Reed Richards, just found out about it?! This is what irritates me about Millar’s writing: he comes up with genius high concepts and hopes we’ll be wowed enough to ignore the inconsistent logic in the details. 6/10

Writer: Bob Gale
Art: Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: The frequency of ASM means there were bound to be some weak stories, but forfeiting the interesting Menace and Mr Negative for a third-rate horror movie creature is annoying. There are some plot aspects linking the stories together, but generally this is one that could have been missed in favour of a longer wait for better quality. 4/10

NOVA #11
Writer: Dan Abnett & Any Lanning
Art: Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: This issue sees the welcome additions of a new interior artist (Pelletier) and a new cover artist (Maleev) to this consistently brilliant series. Still trying to get shot of the Phalanx virus that’s tearing up his insides, Richard Rider arrives on the Technarchy’s home planet where he bumps into a very surprising guest star, one that should bring a smile to the faces of old-school New Mutants fans. One of the best books Marvel is publishing, just a shame that the quality doesn’t equate to high sales. 9/10

Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Tim Seeley
Devil’s Due Publishing $3.50

Matt T: One thing that stands out in this book is how expertly the art captures the feel of the film. From the fleeting appearances of Michael Myers in the dark, to creepy houses at night, Tim Seeley excels himself here. The story itself has typical horror movie pacing, with a slow paced build to what will be a superbly bloody ending. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Ron Garney
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I guess I was sucker-punched because, after my lukewarm review of last month’s instalment, I certainly wasn’t expecting to be completely knocked for six by Wolverine. This was an absolutely stonking issue that amply displays how Aaron’s hard-boiled writing style is a perfect fit for Logan’s gruff persona. I haven’t been this excited about the character in quite some time, and not even Vaughan’s new Logan series thrilled me quite as much as this did. For me, Ron Garney’s always been one of those artists who’s done good, solid work, but never a name that jumps out of the pack… until now. The art in this book is fantastic, simple but potent imagery that brings the different time periods to glorious life. Unexpectedly, the best book I’ve read this week. 9/10

Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Tom Grummett & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Ever since the relaunch a few issues ago, New Exiles has been ticking along in a relatively non-offensive manner, making a few ripples but keeping to the old mindset. This issue continues with the same pacing and rhythm, not really breaking any new ground. I feel the roster needs a rejig as I don’t really care about most of the characters involved. 6/10

Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Bernard Chang
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I thoroughly enjoyed Simone’s debut arc on this book, even though the resolution was a little weak, but this first issue of her second arc makes we wonder if I should keep this on my pull-list. It read like a generic, superheroes-by-numbers tale, the likes of which I felt like I’d seen a million times before. Really, this is one of those plots where you could stick another hero in the lead role and it would still work, it’s not a uniquely Wonder Woman story. Shit, I don’t know, maybe I was in a bad mood when I read this so I’ll give the next issue a whirl to make sure, but as it stands this title is back on thin ice with me again. 5/10

Writer: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
DC $2.99

Matt T: I’ll be honest, there’s not much to dislike about this book. The banter between Booster and Blue Beetle is thoroughly entertaining, and it’s written with an obvious love for the characters by John and Katz. The art is excellent, and most of the set pieces are thrilling. The only slight downside are the OMACs, who I think are annoying opponents due to their ability to crop up anywhere as anyone, which works to remove tension at times, but generally I’m liking where the story is headed. 9/10

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Art: Frazer Irving & Boo Cook
Image $2.99

Matt C: Another series that’s been hampered by excessive delays, which is a shame because I was really getting sucked in to the weird and wonderful world Spurrier and Irving had created. This isn’t to say the quality’s suddenly dropped, it’s more of a case of me having difficulty remembering what the hell is going on! A series that needs to be digested (pun intended!) in one go, methinks. The witty Miss Marple-esque back-up prose story is excellent though, with the redoubtable Boo Cook providing some superb illustration to complete the piece. It's going to make a great trade, no doubt. 7/10

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

Matt C: This one showed loads of promise, and for a minute there it looked like I’d be giving a Bendis Avengers comic a glowing review. Sadly, an ingenious idea (sticking contemporary characters in the midst of Bronze Age storytelling) is soon wasted thanks to a good chunk of the book focusing on Doom and Iron Man arguing on a rooftop about contaminating the timestream. Bagley’s four-colour art is a lot of fun and older readers will get a bit of a kick out of seeing the “Continued After Next Page” captions running along the bottom, but overall it’s a disappointing read. And if the last destructive double-page spread turns to be what it looks like, well, it’s just another instance of Bendis destroying stuff inside of the Marvel Universe rather than creating anything new. 5/10

Matt T: You’ve got to admire the attention to detail when a book involving time travel alters the art to make it appear as if it was drawn in that time period. Doom, Iron man and Sentry cropping up in what looks like the late Eighties, and the colouring takes on the old school appearance of that period. There’s plenty of flash-bang frames, fortunately not to the frivolous extent of the last issue, and the ending sets up a nice twist. 8/10

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

Matt C: Quite heavy on the expositional dialogue for the most part, but that’s fine as the content continues to fascinate. And, just when you think this will be an action-free issue, the proverbial shit hits the fan in a most unexpected fashion. The Foundation continues to be a thoroughly gripping and thought-provoking read and for me it's currently the highlight of Boom! Studios’ impressive roster. 8/10

Writer: Paul Dini w/ Adam Beechen
Art: Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
DC $2.99

Matt T: Bloody hell, after 45 issues, a coherent storyline! All of the assorted characters seem to be pulling in the same - or at least, similar – direction, making Countdown a far more interesting read. I don’t buy that Jimmy Olsen will save the multiverse, or that a character so dull as Karate Kid has such an impact on the future of the DCU, but at least the end is in sight and it’s going to better than it looked ten issues ago. 7/10

Writers: Joe Casey & Keith Giffen
Art: Jim Muniz & Cam Smith
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: The original Defenders books have passed me by, in spite of there being many classics amongst the various incarnations. This version of the team seems a little unbalanced, akin to the New Avengers, and I’ve never been a huge fan of NightHawk. The bickering and apparent lack of cohesion does ensure the dynamic is interesting, and I’m thinking there’s bound to be a couple of roster changes before the book finishes. The art is a bit inconsistent though, making many of the characters look far too bulky. 7/10

Matt C: I’ll give anything Joe Casey does a look because he’s produced some incredible work in his time, but I do think a lot of his better material is based on either his own creations or more leftfield characters and stories. The Last Defenders is thematically similar to previous runs of the book, having a rather unlikely group of heroes band together, but this time around the hook is they’re part of the SHIELD-endorsed Initiative. There may be mileage that can be squeezed out of this premise, but the first issue was way too formulaic to get me back for the next. 5/10

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

Matt T: Much like the Thunderbolts, things are going apocalyptic in record time at Initiative HQ as a regenerated MVP hacks his way through much of the roster. Normally I don’t appreciate the “One Will Die!” covers since they always seem to remove any tension from a character’s death and replace it with gameshowesque novelty value. Fortunately, it’s an excellent story that forgoes any mindless wasting of good characters, and has the kind of action the whole run has been building up to. And one more thing: please, please give me an Ant Man and Taskmaster limited series, preferably involving some kind of road trip. Puleeeeaaaase! 9/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Mike Deodato
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Marvel may try and distract us with various one-shots, but we are aware that this book is running late! Fortunately Ellis has crafted a compelling look at the folly of trying to get a group of bad guys to act like heroes. As everything within Thunderbolts Mountain goes from bad to worse, Deodato’s artwork continues to impress, no more so than in a striking double-page spread highlighting just how dangerous these villains can be. One annoying thing though, and it’s something I’ve noticed in Ellis’s Black Summer too: the lack of a cliffhanger! The story just kind of stops in the middle of a scene, which may be fine in a collected format but it’s just hugely irritating in a “monthly”. 8/10

Matt T: To be frank, things are going seriously tits up with the Thunderbolts, but in a good way. Psychic manipulation, Norman Osbourn (who for some reason is looking more like Tommy Lee Jones with every issue) losing it, and the Swordsman killing pretty much everyone, it makes for a bloody entertaining issue. With so much going wrong it’ll be interesting to see how the story wraps up, and what future there is for the team. 8/10

Writer: Harold Sipe
Art: Hector Cassanova
Image $2.99

Matt T: Ever since spotting this in the Previews and getting immediately grabbed by the premise I’ve been looking forward to Screamland. Having Frankenstein as an out-of-work actor being pulled back into Hollywood for one last ‘Night Of The Monsters’ is a clever take on the classic characters, and painting the Monster himself as a cynical drunk is a nice touch. I’m hoping the satire takes more of a back seat in future issues, but the art is suitably individual and there’s some interesting personalities to be explored. 8/10

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Tom Raney & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Easily the best “event” book Marvel has put out in the last few years: action-packed and with a lively cast of characters. Keith Giffen laid the groundwork with his Drax mini a while back, following it with the original Annihlation series, and now Abnett & Lanning have taken everything up a level, infusing Marvel’s galactic milieu with sense of excitement it hasn’t seen in a long, long time. And thank God the writers’ have been able to give Ultron’s recent bizarre sojourn in Mighty Avengers a somewhat plausible explaination, as well as highlighting just how petty the villainous android actually is. 8/10

Writer: Peter David
Art: Valentine De Landro & Andrew Hennessy
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: There’s a bit too much going on in X-Factor at the moment, with the various pregnancies, people leaving and/or being left in the future, making it difficult to see which thread is going to be picked up and actually finished. Just when it looks like one of the subplots is going to be resolved, another crops up to throw a spanner in the works. A little focus would help massively, as there’s a year’s worth of good ideas seemingly being pushed out in the space of few issues. 7/10

No comments: