25 May 2008

Mini Reviews 25/05/08

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: Dan Slott
Art: Marcos Martin
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Peter continues his new role as a paparazzo - ignoring the disapproval of friends and family - and the new villain finally springs into action. If the quality of this title stays on this level then I’ll persist in championing it, because when it gets it right – as it most emphatically does here – it provides an absolutely wonderful comic book experience. Slott has hit his stride now, mixing wit with ingenuity, and Spanish artist Martin – last seen illustrating the delightful Doctor Strange: Blood Oath – reveals himself to be almost uncannily suited to drawing Spidey’s adventures. After reading this I had a big fat grin on my face, and really, there’s no higher praise than that! 8/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Khoi Pham & Danny Miki
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: No Nick Fury this time; instead we get an issue focusing on the Sentry’s involvement in Secret Invasion. There’s a lot of chat between the embedded alien infiltrators and we are treated to a rather bizarre scene with a group of kamikaze Skrulls attempting to fly a spacecraft into Avengers Tower – God knows what parallels Bendis is try draw there! Pham’s art is good but not as convincing as his recent work on Incredible Hercules, and there are a few too many instances of distracting ‘mouth-agape’ facial expressions. Diverting, but unlike the preceding two issues, not essential reading .6/10

Matt T: This adds very little to the proceedings on the whole, other than hinting at yet another Skrull infiltration. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come, picking out every bloody character to explain how they are/might be/is probably not a Skrull. Having three comics essentially telling the same story seems to be overkill as well, and, knowing Marvel, will probably get annoyingly complicated before long. The art is passable, if a little too concerned about showing how mentally unstable the Sentry is via a series of over-emphasised facial expressions. 6/10

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Bryan Hitch & Andrew Currie
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: An Anti-Galactus Suit?! It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as I’m concerned. The levels of technology displayed in Millar’s run are so far advanced beyond what we’re used to seeing in the Marvel Universe that it practically renders that universe redundant. I mean, if Reed’s capable of knocking up a suit that can hand Galactus his ass then surely he’s not just the smartest man on Earth but also one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse! And if that’s the case, he could pretty much defend the planet single-handedly and there wouldn’t be any need for superheroes. I know we’re dealing with a fantasy world, but does that mean we have to dispense with logic and consistency on such a grand scale? Okay, I’ll let Millar off the hook for at least acknowledging the registration act – something I bitched about in last month’s review – and there are a couple of nice ‘human’ moments thrown into the mix that are engaging to a degree, but even Doom’s reappearance isn’t going to stop me dropping this book like a stone. 4/10

Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Steve Uy
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: I’m glad this book is still ticking along under the radar, as it’s really maintaining the initial promise shown by the first few issues. This is basically a throwaway filler, sitting between the last arc and whatever is on the horizon, without impacting too much across the bigger picture. It’s refreshing to see a super power missing out on being a superhero, and that the boot camp tone keeps it perfectly entertaining without straying too far into schmaltz. The art gets a little basic, especially on facial expressions, but otherwise a solid read. 7/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting & Mike Perkins
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Weaving some old school Cap into the modern story is something the Bru excels at, and he's at it again here. The drama, intrigue and general tension are expertly weaved, and I’m not even mildly concerned about the ‘battle of two caps’ that’s looming somewhat uncomfortably on the horizon. The use of shadowing to hide a possible horrific deformity is also impressive, as many lesser artists than Mr Epting would have gone full-frontal for the cheap shock value. 8/10

Matt C: This really does feel more and more like it’s Brubaker’s magnum opus because, no matter what he follows it with, it’s difficult to envisage him being able to top his work on this book. A true epic, intelligent and complex, populated by a cast of well-defined, interesting characters, Brubaker’s run on Captain America has become a template of how to successfully ensure that a decades old superhero concept feels fresh and relevant in the 21st century. 9/10

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Mat Broome & Sean Parsons
Dark Horse Comics $2.99

Matt C: Although impressive in its scope and scale, my enjoyment of The End League has diminished rapidly since the promising first issue. I think the problems I’m having are primarily down to the huge cast of characters: now that Astonishman’s out of the picture, no one’s come along to replace him to create a prominent entry point into this universe. There’s just too many different personalities being juggled at the moment and, to be honest, I feel a little lost. It also doesn’t help that huge chunks of dialogue may have you reaching for your dictionary! While I can appreciate many of the ideas being played with in this book, it makes me feel disconnected rather than involved. 6/10

Matt T: As much as I enjoy superheroics outside the big two, trying to fill us in on years of pseudo-history in a short space of time can get a little trying. There’s clearly plenty of story happening outside of the panels shown on End League, but having lumps of it thrown at you in lengthy speeches can ruin the pace and flow. I’m liking the post-apocalyptic feel, but the story needs room to breathe rather than bombarding the reader with too much info at once. 7/10

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Art: David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez
DC $2.99

Matt C: I’ll miss this book. From Adam Hughes’ gorgeous covers, to Pfeifer’s astute characterization, right on through to the clean, crisp and sexy (!) art from Lopez, this book has been a consistent joy to collect. While the rest of the DCU has been embroiled in one crisis after another, Catwoman slipped under the radar and has inevitably paid the price of low sales. Selina will return eventually, but I have my doubts she’ll be handled as well as this. 8/10

DYNAMO 5 #13
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Mahmud A.Asrar & Ron Riley
Image $3.50

Matt T: Although the revelation of last issue wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as expected, this is still a clever, well-paced team book. There aren’t ever too many elements to detract from the main plot and the art is always clean and simple to follow. With the Dynamo kids facing an uphill battle and internal struggles, this book is bound to take another unexpected twist soon enough. 8/10

Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art: Rafa Sandoval & Roger Bonet
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Superb stuff. Athena pulls together her “god squad” from Earth’s immortal pantheons to take on the Skrull’s own deities and elects a reluctant Hercules to lead them. You know that things probably won’t run smoothly when, even before they begin their mission, punches are being thrown left, right and centre! Pak and Van Lente continue to get the balance of action and humour just right and their unique spin on the obligatory Secret Invasion crossover promise great things indeed. 9/10

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Tyler Kirkham & Blond
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: With the general chaos the standard FF is in, it seems like a convenient time for their Ultimate counterparts to turn up, as even a mediocre issue would be an improvement on the hash Millar is making. Fortunately, this is a mediocre issue and not much else besides. The story is predictable in places, and the dialogue is equally as telegraphed, especially with some jarringly out of place lesbianism elements in the first few pages. Tyler Kirkham’s art is very patchy, and each female character looks the same, but I loved most of his stuff on the Darkness so hopefully he’ll raise his game a bit in the next few issues. 6/10

Writer: Peter David
Art: Pablo Raimondi & Jeromy Cox
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Seeing at least one Marvel book still revisiting the ramifications of M-Day proves the speed in which major events are forgotten, and how a decent writer can make the most of them. Peter David is doing well with the characters given, and is giving some real depth to the likes of Rictor, who would have previously been discarded for his lack of powers. A pretty decent read, even if the current arc is dragging. 7/10

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