29 Jun 2008

Mini Reviews 29/06/08

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: Grant Morrison
Art: J.G. Jones
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: As is always the way with big event comics, the first issue grabs you and the second slows the pace for the approaching plot. Grant Morrison throws plenty of small, unknown characters at Final Crisis then hits us with a doozy of a last page, with plenty of twists and turns in between. Although it isn’t quite as manic as the first issue, but the madness is definitely still there. 8/10

Matt C: Second issue in and I’m not a hundred percent sure what’s actually going on - there’s a sense of disjointedness running through the book and a need for a clear threat to present itself. There are some cool ideas – an assassin’s bullet being shot backwards through time – but so far it’s the series’ status as DC’s main event for 2008 that will have me seeing it through to completion rather than the content itself. 6/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Rob De La Torre & Frank D’Armata
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Even the slower, quieter issues of Cap are something to behold. The cadre of villains are cooking up plenty of bad times for Bucky and co, and the emergence of a faux Cap are the least of his worries. There aren’t too many issues left of this marathon story, but it’s become a real masterpiece of well paced storytelling and rewards sticking with a comic for more than 6 issues. 9/10

Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Art:Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Definitely back on form with the team of Brubaker & Rucka bringing us a captivating crime tale mixing detective work and street-level fisticuffs with a dash of superheroics. I’m very much enjoying seeing Dakota North getting thrust into the limelight as she’s proving to be one of the strongest characters in the supporting cast. And, knowing Rucka’s ability to write strongly from a female perspective, a Dakota North mini from him is something I wouldn’t say no to! 8/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Avatar $1.00

Matt T: It’s difficult to read a Warren Ellis comic without thinking ‘is this going to be a typical Warren Ellis book?’. No Heroes has plenty of the darkside of a life in spandex on show, some horrific blood, guts and gore and a fair amount of black humour. So in a sense this is a typical Warren Ellis book, but the central idea of how much the heroes of this particular universe are willing to give, and the repercussions on mind and soul, is a strong one and could see Ellis pull out another winner. 7/10

Matt C
: Warren Ellis pumps out so much material these days that there’s always the danger that he’ll start repeating himself and, to be honest, No Heroes does seem a little too familiar. The premise is quite strong – how much do you want to be a superhuman? – but not quite strong enough to make its way onto my monthly pile. Still, with a dollar cover price it’s worth picking up to decide for yourself. 6/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Khari Evans, Victor Olazaba & Patrick Zircher
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I’m not sure what the reasoning behind releasing this story as three separate one-shots is, because you’d think it’d make sense as miniseries with the same name, but that’s a minor quibble really since this is glorious stuff. It still surprises me just how well Fraction captures the tone of ancient Asgard and its citizenry as none of his prior work suggested he’d have such a knack for handling these mythological characters. Thor: Reign Of Blood adeptly proves his flexibility as a talented wordsmith and the potent illustrations of conflict and trickery (particularly from Zircher) ensure this is an all-round winner. 9/10

Writer: Sam Sarkar
Art: Garrie Gastonny
Radical Comics $2.99

Matt T: The confusing elements have faded away from Caliber, which is a relief, as the story becomes far more focussed on the present. I’ve stopped trying to figure out which gunslinger is supposed to be which member of Arthur’s round table, which seems to make the comic flow far easier. The artwork is still stunning, and reducing the number of characters has certainly helped. 8/10

Writer: Timothy Truman
Art: Tomas Giorello
Dark Horse Comics $0.99

Matt C: Right off the bat Giorello’s art seems to have taken a noticeable leap in quality which makes for some sumptuous looking pages, with José Villarrubia’s washed-out colouring increasing its impact. Truman adapts Howard’s poem “Cimmeria” in style; this issue’s a tone-setter and it does its job brilliantly, leaving you anticipating great things for the future. 8/10

Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Art: Reilly Brown & Juan Vlasco
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: This book is still something of a letdown in places, as the main story is entertaining, but the squabbling is starting to grate. The dynamic of de-powered mutants hasn’t been explored to its fullest - and I’m hoping it will be soon - but New Warriors definitely has the potential to be a real sleeper hit. 7/10


Writer: James Robinson
Art: Renato Guedes & Wilson Magalhaes
DC $2.99

Matt C: As fatherhood looms ever closer for me and purse strings tighten, certain sacrifices need to be made in the area of weekly comic purchasing. Basically, if books don’t make the grade they’re off the list. With that in mind, Superman is being dropped. I’ve never been too familiar with James Robinson’s work: I missed out on Starman and his much-trumpeted run on Batman for One Year Later was pretty forgettable. His first issue of Superman does show potential and reads pretty well, but I didn’t “hear” Kal-El’s voice in the opening pages (too colloquial) and the prospect of a smackdown with another beefy superdude wasn’t overtly appealing. I’ll stick with Action. 6/10

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

Matt T: I get the feeling the UFF is really starting to lose both direction and momentum, as the current arc is a bit dull and cliched. There are some decent characters in this book, but they need to put them into far better surroundings. 6/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: David Aja & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I’d made my decision to drop this book when Fraction exited, and was I expecting his final issue to be something of a summation of his superb run alongside Brubaker. But while there was a little of that going on, I found myself infuriated more than anything else reading this issue: it was so damn good, suggested so many possibilities for the future, played with and expanded on the established mythology, and brought every single character to life in such a convincing manner, that the overall effect was to have me aching to see what Fraction would do next. And we’re not gonna get to see that, at least not for the time being! Bummer. A fantastic issue that even has me considering looking at what the new creative team does with the character. 9/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: This book has been so difficult to judge due to the piecemeal style that it’s raised more of a question as to whether there’s any point in reading the series in relation to the forthcoming YA comic. The final part focuses on Hawkeye, as she’s now called thanks to a run-in with Clint Barton, and her ongoing teen angst over a fledgling relationship with a fellow team member. It may sound like Hollyoaks in spandex, but it works reasonably well. As to how much impact, if any, it’ll have in the future is anyone’s guess as chances are yet another writer will be doing the main YA book. 7/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Mike Deodato Jr & Rain Beredo
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: This has been a cracking read up till now. The in-fighting, double crossing and complete madness was wrapped up in slightly speedy fashion for my liking, but the long term impact on the team should make for some interesting dynamics in the future. I was initially against the who’s who of villains line-up, but god bless Warren Ellis as he’s really pulled it out of the hat on this one. 9/10

Matt C: As expected, Ellis & Deodato Jr don’t leave this book quietly, with all the tensions that have been bubbling under the surface finally erupting in enormously entertaining fashion. I kind of hoped this current incarnation of the Thunderbolts would implode completely and leave the incoming creative team with something new to work with because you just know no one’s going to match what Ellis has achieved here. Can you imagine any other writer being able to pen a scene as creepy and darkly humorous as Bullseye’s murderous reappearance in this issue? Me neither. Ellis’s final issue of Thunderbolts will also be mine. 8/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Mike Choi & Ben Oliver
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: There certainly wasn’t going to be much in the way of long term implications from this decidedly throwaway X-Men story, but the fact that the end does lead into a major plot point is quite refreshing though. Of the two stories Cyclops and Emma Frost being stuck in the 60s was the most annoying, and ended accordingly abruptly. The Russian smash-em-up was a far better distraction, but equally as forgettable. Roll on #500. 6/10

Writer: Matt Wagner
Art: Amy Reeder Hadley
DC/Vertigo £2.99

Matt C: The magic/fantasy combo in comics doesn’t really do it for me but Wagner is a fine writer and glimpses of Hadley’s art convinced me to give Madame Xanadu a look. Things I’ve learnt: Wagner is indeed a fine writer, Hadley’s art is phenomenal in places but the magic/fantasy combo still doesn’t really do it for me. But, although it doesn’t quite float my boat, I can see this clicking in a big way for a lot of Vertigo fans. 6/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: John Romita Jr & Klaus Janson
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: I know there’s plenty of back story to tell, but it’s getting more than a little annoying to know exactly what point each person turned into a Skrull. A few panels could have surmised this, and then onto what’s happening in the present. Instead being treated to Hank Pym getting his end away for 30 pages doesn’t seem like a good way of spending my money. 4/10

MARVEL 1985 #2
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Tommy Lee Edwards
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: My positive comments from my review of the debut issue still stand, but while there was some smart and intriguing character work involved here I did get the feeling that the plot wasn’t being pushed forward enough. Nonetheless, there’s plenty to keep me interested and with any luck the next instalment will give additional insight into what’s going on and why. 7/10

Writer: Phil Hester
Art: Michael Broussard & Ryan Winn
Marvel/DC/Image $2.99

Matt T: There aren’t too many superhero books willing to completely turn the title character on his head with little fanfare, but then The Darkness isn’t a typical superhero book. Jackie Estacado has pretty much lost it all, and has to side with the people who tried to blow him into little pieces in issue 1. Still, there’s nothing like having a creature of your own creation turn on you, and it makes for a superb plot device. Still a cracking read, long may it continue. 9/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Facundo Perico
Avatar $3.99

Matt C
: Warren Ellis can always be relied on for intelligent, extremely imaginative sci-fi concepts, and while the first issue of Anna Mercury dangled a potential doozy in front of us, the second issue doesn’t really carry that through. The exposition heavy first few pages don’t quite put across the ideas central to the books premise… well, either that or I’m just too thick to grasp it! Whichever it is, for reasons covered in my Superman review, this is no longer a book I’m willing to pursue. 5/10

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