9 Mar 2008

Mini Reviews 9/3/2008

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.


LOGAN #1
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Marvel $3.99


Matt C: Where I once considered him to be my favourite character, these days I find that Wolverine spends a little too much time descending into self-parody. This is a shame because, while his ubiquity does dilute the character, he remains one of Marvel’s most complex and layered heroes when handled correctly which, to be honest, happens extremely rarely these days. Thank God for Brian K. Vaughan then, who seems to get how Logan’s inherent contradictions make him such a fascinating fictional creation. From acts of extreme violence to moments of pure tenderness, Vaughan makes the transitions between both states believable and it helps that Risso has the ability to distinctively render them too. Odds are this mini will be something very special. 8/10

Matt T: And so it falls to Mr K Vaughan the ‘nicest man in comics'™ to put yet another spin on the furry ol’ canuckle-head we all know so well. This story isn’t terrible, and delving into Logan’s past is also a thumbs up from me, but this feels a little….flat. There’s not much pace to it and it seems decidedly formulaic. Still, I trust ‘Mr Lost'™ to pull out a decent story. 6/10


CABLE #1
Writer: Duane Swiercynski
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: I was unsure as to how this book was going to pan out, and whether it would be a series of crossovers with minor X characters. Instead Cable is something more akin to Terminator, with the title character being hunted down by everyone’s least-favourite mutant turncoat Bishop. The art works, which was another point of concern, and the 'ickle baby seems to be in real danger at times. 8/10


THE TWELVE #3
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Chris Weston
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Nice to see a few of the background characters getting rounded out, and not in a way that ruins the overall story. Mr E’s tale of woe somewhat echoes that of a number of Jewish immigrants of that era, making the emotion of the story that much more hard hitting. The blossoming romance should give the whole run a more conventional anchor, and Fiery Mask’s origin is completely bonkers. A bloody good read, and thoroughly entertaining. 9/10

Matt C: The cracks are beginning to show amongst the group of time-displaced heroes and although there’s not a lot in the way of action in this issue, you do get a sense of Straczynski slowly and carefully moving all the pieces into place. Mr E’s visit to his family home where he’s confronted by both his son who’s now 40-odd years his senior and his aged, comatose wife, is one of the most emotionally affecting scenes I’ve seen in a comic book in recent months. But it’s also heartening to know that the writer isn’t beyond poking gentle fun at the rather ridiculously naive origins of the characters. Weston’s realistic art brilliantly portrays how incongruous the twelve Golden Age superheroes, with their extravagant, gaudy costumes, look in the 21st century. 8/10


PAX ROMANA #2
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Jonathan Hickman
Image $3.50


Matt C: This is an extraordinary piece of work, and while this second issue may suffer from not having the “shock-of –the-new” impact the debut did, it’s still ripe with a multitude of enthralling, though-provoking ideas. Hickman’s art maybe sparse in background detail, but the combination of pictures and words is so potent that it fills in any blanks inside your imagination. 9/10


YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS...#2
Writer: Brian Reed
Art: Harvey Tolibao & Jay David Ramos
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: I was a little underwhelmed by the first part of this build-up to the upcoming new YA series, but this issue has plenty more merit. With Captain Marvel inexplicably (and I mean inexplicably, even he can’t figure out why!) appearing back in modern Marvel U, reunited father and son have a good old heart to heart. It’s well written, and tugs at the heartstrings, rounding out the Hulkling character nicely. 8/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #552
Writer: Bob Gale
Art: Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Disappointingly, following Guggenheim’s lively three issue stint, the series suffers a significant dip in quality. Gale’s take is just a little too jokey and light-hearted, and Jimenez’s detailed line-work doesn’t really suit the tone. This issue more than any other in the Brand New Day cycle really does feel like it belongs in a different era. Not bad, but too throwaway. 6/10

Matt T: So far, so inoffensively mediocre and occasionally decent. Spidey is acting like his old self again, and there are some often-amusing backup stories. The only real gripe I have with this book is the sudden about-face into horror territory. Usually I love a bit of guts n’ gore, but not when it comes to Webhead. 6/10


JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER SPECIAL #1
Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Art: Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone & David Bullock
DC $4.99


Matt C: I think I must be genetically programmed to love anything Darwyn Cooke produces, and The New Frontier Special is no exception. Three stories, all tonally different: a kind of “deleted scene” from the original series, with the Dark Knight and the Man Of Steel duking it out; a neat little tale featuring Robin and Kid Flash with Rebel With A Cause vibe; and an amusing look at Wonder Woman and Black Canary striking a “mighty blow for Women’s rights” by tearing up a Playboy club. The affection Cooke and his collaborators, J. Bone and David Bullock, have for the Silver Age drips from every beautifully illustrated panel. The only downside is that this is a one-off. If DC had sense, they’d get Cooke back working in this little pocket Universe he’s created as soon as possible. 9/10


COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #8
Writer: Paul Dini
Art: Carlos Magno & Rooney Ramos
DC $2.99


Matt T: Things are kind of starting to come together, but putting Karate Kid up front with his random virus is a misstep in my mind. There’s going to be a plenty big fight at the end, but I’m not sure I care who lives or dies. 6/10


END LEAGUE #2
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Mat Broome & Sean Parsons
Dark Horse $2.99


Matt T: One of the main problems with creating a brand new universe with a hat-full of equally new characters is it takes a while to get to know them. The End League throws out a bit too much information at once, making it difficult to recall which character has done what in the fictional history. The story has plenty left in it though, and the artwork of Mat Broome is excellent. 7/10

Matt C: Not a particularly effective follow-up to the impressive debut. Following an extended punch-up between Astonishman and Thor (not that Thor!) we suddenly meet a new set of characters in a rather rushed manner and without a solid introduction. The appearance of the Batman analog, Black, makes sense in the wider context of the story, but it all felt a little too confusing for me to get a handle on. The general air of pessimism and futility that runs through the book will have me back for the next installment though. 6/10


NORTH WIND #3
Writer: David DiGilio
Art: Alex Cal
Boom! Studios $3.99


Matt C: I came a little late to this series but I’m glad I've caught up now – it’s hardly original, containing many familiar staples of post-apocalyptic fiction, but then what is truly original these days? While it may not be offering anying new, North Wind is an arresting addition to the dystopic future genre. 7/10


DYNAMO 5 #11
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Mahmud A. Asrar & John Riley
Marvel $3.50


Matt T: The “little book that can” is still doing the business. In my mind this beats most Marvel and DC fare as the best team book out there, with conflict and intrigue and some good old fashioned superheroics as well. The fact that villains introduced six or seven issues ago are back to wreak havoc also means long-term readers are being rewarded, and I salute Messrs Faerber and Asrar for that. 9/10


SECRET INVASION SAGA
Writer: John Rhett Thomas
Art: Various

Marvel $0.00

Matt C: I’ve got a multitude of reservations about the upcoming Secret Invasion crossover which I’m not going to get into right now, but I am fully behind Marvel releasing this informative one-shot that rounds up the pivotal appearances of the Skrulls in Marvel comics over the last 40-odd years. If I was going to be a stickler I’d say that some stories deserved more attention than others but I reckon that’s my own mix of personal preference and nostalgia causing that. At the end of the day this is a freebie (that’s right kids, you don’t have to pay for it!) so hat’s off to Marvel for putting out this enjoyable trip down memory lane. 6/10


POWERS #28
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Steve Oeming
Marvel/Icon $3.95


Matt T: PowersPowers….Ah! Now I remember! That book Bendis writes every once in a purple moon! After blowing the dust off my previous issue and figuring out what in criminy was transpiring, I realised ol’ BMB can still tell a good story every once in a while. The tension is being cranked up, and the art maintains that individual look that sets Powers apart. It would just be much better if it turned up more often. 8/10


SECRET HISTORY #5
Writer: Jean-Pierre Pécau
Art: Leo Pilipovic
Archaia Studios Press $5.95


Matt C: Yet another delayed book from Archaia and this one took an additional week to get to the UK for some reason. Worth it though – Pécau’s epic tale of four god-like immortals scheming and manoeuvring through the ages is meticulously researched and almost overwhelming in its level of detail. The art is absolutely gorgeous, jumping from the page and pulling you straight into the streets of London in 1666. Don’t know much about Leo Pilipovic but based on his work here it wouldn’t surprise me if the likes of Marvel and DC are scrambling over each other to sign him up. And if they’re not already, they should be!

I spotted the original versions when I was over in France last summer and would’ve snapped them all up if not for the language barrier. So there you go kids: pay attention in your French classes at school so you can get to read some of the wealth of comics our neighbours across the Channel produce (it’s not all Asterix and Tintin you know!). For the rest of us, be grateful that Archaia are making series like this and The Killer accessible – when they eventually arrive! 8/10


CLANDESTINE #2
Writer: Alan Davis
Art: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Yet another twist in the bizarre tales of the Destine family, which seems to have more members than the Joss Whedon fan club! This month they have to deal with the shadowy organisation trying to manipulate them from, well, the shadows. As Newton appears from an alternate dimension the book gets more barmy, which is fantastic as Alan Davis’ pencils seem to capture the insanity perfectly. 8/10


UNCANNY X-MEN
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Mike Choi
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: A more substantial issue than last month’s, and I felt more comfortable with the art this time around. The most unexpected surprise is the reveal of a major character’s death which we’re due to see whenever Whedon finishes his run on Astonishing. I know a few people who are going to be far from happy when they learn who it turns out to be! Some nice scenes with Logan, Peter and Kurt stand out and outshine the San Francisco stuff. 7/10

Matt T: I’m not usually a big fan of time-travel storylines, especially those as clichéd as this. The whole Sixties-kooky effort is just annoying, but the backup Collosus/Nightcrawler/Wolverine (again) tale is far better in my opinion. Then again, that’s probably because there are more fights and less people saying "groovy". 6/10


MOON KNIGHT #16
Writer: Mike Benson
Art: Mark Texeira & Dan Brown
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Nice to see the nutter has some morals! I thought the characterisation of old Moony had been a bit off recently, but it’s reassuring to see he has limits. I’m not too keen on the art as it looks a bit wishy-washy, but the story is starting to develop in the right directions as MK’s team collapses around him. 7/10

3 comments:

Ian said...

Looking at that Cable cover, does anyone else think it looks like he's just put a big target over that baby, a la Batman?!!

Matt C said...

Cable's so badass he doesn't care! It's also must be one of the smallest babies ever known - it's about the same size as one of Cable's biceps!

Matt T said...

and you wouldn't want to take a shot at the baby. That would just piss Cable off, like telling him massive shoulder pads have been out of fashion since Dynasty.