15 Jun 2008

Mini Reviews 15/6/2008

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.


RED MASS FOR MARS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Ryan Bodenheim
Image $3.50


Matt C: The idea of yet another book dealing with an alien invasion may not be too appealing, but if you’ve had a look at some of Jonathan Hickman’s previous work (Nightly News, Pax Romana, Transhuman) you know the guy won’t take the predictable approach to anything, and that’s definitely the case here. Narrated by a man who can see the future but for the most part is powerless to change it and simply watches it play out, not all of the numerous ideas being pumped out in Red Mass For Mars connect straight away (a flashback to 834 AD is a little confusing) but then Hickman doesn’t write stuff you can read if you’re mind’s elsewhere – he’s crediting his audience with intelligence so we damn well better give him our full attention! Bodenheim’s art is exciting and imaginative, and while Hickman’s colouring gives it a look similar to Pax Romana, the detail and definition ensure it has its own identity. A great start. 8/10


CLANDESTINE #5
Writer: Alan Davis
Art: Mark Farmer & Paul Mounts
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: I was worried how all the various plot threads would weave together into a coherent conclusion for the last issue of Clandestine, but I should have been more confident in Alan Davis’ ability to make sense of all the madness! There is a slight feeling of the final battle being forced, and the last page is a bit clich├ęd, but overall the issue made me feel content that this weird little ride through the world of the Clandestine had been a fulfilling one. 8/10


SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST?
Writers: Brian Reed, Mike Carey, Christos N. Gage, Zeb Wells & Jeff Parker
Art: Lee Weeks, Timothy Green III, Mike Perkins, Steve Kurth, Drew Hennessey, Leonard Kirk & Karl Kesel
Marvel $3.99


Matt C: Usually I’d avoid this kind of thing, but some positive word convinced me to pick it up. Five stories by five different creative teams either directly linked to the main mini or giving us a peek at what’s happening elsewhere in the world, while its somewhat inevitable that they vary in quality, each of them is substantial enough to add something to the Secret Invasion experience. Once again I find myself getting more out of a subsidiary title than the main series itself! 7/10


SCREAMLAND #4
Writer: Harold Sipe
Art: Hector Casannova
Image $2.99


Matt T: Much like the last issue, Screamland concentrates on a single character from the monsters brigade and fleshes out the legend with some very human character flaws. Count Dracula has been living a secret life under the radar of Hollywood, hiding his homosexuality from the press for fear of being shunned. Things take a turn for the awkward when a former one-night-stand interviews him on a major entertainment show, leading to some poignant flashbacks. The satire in this book is wonderfully biting at times, and the Wolfman’s appearance shows some superb possibilities for a conflict in the next, and sadly final, issue. 9/10


BOOSTER GOLD #10
Writer: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
DC $2.99


Matt T: Another cracking issue of Booster. In spite of the seemingly inevitable conclusion to the story, this continues to be one of the most entertaining DC books out there. The true impact of Booster trying to get the Blue & Gold back together is finally dawning on him, as even his own father tries to rescue the present from the hero's meddling in the past. Johns and Katz are weaving a clever and fast-paced story, although the revelation of an old foe pulling the strings felt a little unnecessary to me. 8/10


SKAAR: SON OF HULK #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Ron Garney
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: First impressions are that this series will be going for a similar barbaric fantasy vibe as books like Conan, and while that’s a novel twist on the world first introduced in the Planet Hulk storyline, there’s not a great deal here to entice readers to sign on for the duration. No characters, not even Skaar himself, make any significant impression, and the telling is all very generic and uninspired. What does impress though is the incredible pencil art by Garney, brilliantly portraying a desolate landscape populated by both the humanoid and the monstrous. But as good as the art is, it’s not enough to get me back for the next issue. 5/10


THE TWELVE #6
Writer: J Michael Stracynski
Art: Chris Weston
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Retcons can be beneficial when done well, but this particular issue of The Twelve shows how it can be detrimental at times. Granted, Rock Man’s initial origin wouldn’t have worked particularly well in the current Marvel U, but I expected something better than an ‘it’s all in his head’ from JMS. Dynamic Man continues to be the most interesting character, and his dated views are suggesting plenty about his mindset. The art is consistently excellent, staying on the right side of gritty to keep that realistic edge. 7/10


WONDER WOMAN #21
Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
DC $2.99


Matt C: After her entertaining debut arc on the title I’ve found myself becoming less interested in Gail Simone’s take on Wonder Woman with each passing issue. I can appreciate what she’s doing, focusing more on the mythical side of the character, but as it takes on a more serious tone it loses the sense of fun that appealed to me, and I find myself once again having to bail out on the Amazonian’s adventures, for the time being at least. 5/10


NEW EXILES #7
Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Tom Grummett
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: A return to form to some extent, but the New Exiles still needs an injection of new blood. The team is getting stilted with the current line up, with too many uninteresting characters taking the limelight away from far more intriguing ones. The story at least puts the team in a believable alternate universe, where the French and English are at war. The fact that the usual Marvel characters are apparently only different in title and not much else was a little annoying, since the potential for altering designs or powers was ripe for a writer such as Chris Claremont. 6/10


ELEPHANTMEN #12
Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Rob Steen
Image $2.99


Matt C: Nice to see this series back on the shelves – even though we’ve had War Toys in the meantime, it seems like age since the last issue came out. Turns out we’re not joining the regular storyline quite yet though, and instead we get a creepy one-off tale that brought to mind EC’s shockers from back in the Fifties. It’s something different, it does its job well, but I’m looking forward to meeting up with Hip Flask et al again pretty soon. 7/10


ACTION COMICS #866
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & John Sibal
DC $2.99


Matt C: Now this is what I’m talking about! On top of the phenomenal art from Frank, Johns seems to be firing on all cylinders here, supplying everything necessary for a great Superman comic: well-defined characters, a healthy dollop of humour, and some gloriously visceral action sequences! If this opening act of the new ‘Brianiac’ arc is an indicator to what’s to come, then we’ve got some damn fine comics heading our way over the next few months. 9/10


MOON KNIGHT #19
Writer: Mike Benson
Art: Mark Texeira
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: The finale to one of the better storylines in Moon Knight over the last few months is brought to a suitably brutal end. This feels like a conclusion in more ways than one, getting rid of a fair few elements that have defined the past 19 issues. It’s been a dark and bloody ride so far, with a few misses and a few hits, and while bringing the supernatural element back into play could be a masterstroke, I do get the feeling it may be a turn for the worst. 7/10


CHARLATAN BALL #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Andy Suriano
Image $2.50


Matt C: Alongside Godland, this is another book that Joe Casey seems to be using the boundless idea-generation of Jack Kirby for his inspiration. With a similarly irreverent tone to Godland, Charlatan Ball features a two-bit stage magician who gets caught up in a grand inter-dimensional magic tournament alongside his mutated giant white rabbit(!). Suriano’s art has hints of Kirby but forges its own identity quickly and Marc Letzmenn’s colours add a hallucinogenic quality to the proceedings. A hell of a lot of fun and definitely worth seeking out. 8/10


LAST DEFENDERS #4
Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Jim Muniz & Cam Smith
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: This thoroughly random book seems to be careering towards a conclusion of some sort, although it hasn’t been grabbing my interest particularly due to the constant line-up changes. As interesting as Nighthawk is, for a limited-run comic some stability would make it far better. The story isn’t terrible, but it’s hard to invest in it in any major manner. 6/10

2 comments:

Ian said...

Nice Apprentice reference in the Action review Matt!!

Matt C said...

Apprentice reference?! I don't watch it so it was accidental if it's there - you'll have to fill me in!!