8 Jun 2008

Mini Reviews 8/6/2008

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.

Writers: Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza
Art: Mark Bagley, Art Thibert, Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens
DC $2.99

Matt C: Busiek has proven on numerous occasions that he understands the intrinsic nature of DC’s three most iconic characters, and the relationships between them, and he ably demonstrates that here, comfortably backed up by Bagley’s polished art. The second story in the book was where I lost interest and also where I came to a decision: after the debacle of Countdown I said that Trinity would have to be something really special for me to start picking up another DC book on a weekly basis. Entertaining the first issue of Trinity may have been, but something special it definitely wasn’t – it’ll no doubt be a lot better than Countdown in the long tun, but I’m just not prepared to commit myself and find out. 6/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Lenil Francis Yu & Mark Morales
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: Well, the inevitable has finally been properly revealed. There are more twists in the tale as well, but Secret Invasion has definitely slowed down since the cracking first issue. Messing with the possible Skrullishness of Tony Stark is something of a big tease, as it would explain a lot, but it would also be one of the most telegraphed and obvious twists since Civil War began. I'm hoping there's more to it than that, as the pace and punch of the mini has been one of the positive points this far. 8/10

Matt C: On the surface it looks like there’s plenty going on with a large cast of characters dealing with the consequences of the Skrulls’ first strike - take a closer look and it’s apparent that the plot doesn’t really advance all that much. Sure, Bendis skilfully throws out a huge question mark over a central character’s true identity (a subject which has caused rampant speculation ever since Civil War) but beyond that you get the impression that the more interesting aspects of this company-wide crossover are being told elsewhere. 6/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Butch Guice & Justin Ponsor
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Well, some of us are just gluttons for punishment. After purposely missing out on Trinity due to the inevitable disappointment, I took the plunge with Ultimate Origins knowing my fanboy pride would take another hit. Expecting a Secret Invasion-esque issue of big revelations, I was somewhat disappointed and left thinking 'yeah, and…?' The art was decent enough in places, looking not unlike the recent 'scratchy' style of Bryan Hitch, and most of the story moved along at a fair pace, but the overall feeling of 'meh' made this the underwhelming book I was afraid it would be. 6/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Smart, faced-paced and rammed full of scintillating sci-fi ideas, this new Iron Man series is a thrilling read from start to finish. Shellhead tackles terrorism on a global scale, runs into an uncomfortable meeting with an old Asgardian friend and still finds time to schmoose the ladies. With Larocca continuing to supply some kinetically charged art, coloured wonderfully by Frank D’Armata, this is on the way to becoming one of Marvel’s best books. 8/10

Writer: Brendan Hay
Art: Nate Watson
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt T: There's been some excellent horror comics of late, from Halloween and the Marvel Zombies/Evil Dead crossover through to the likes of Screamland and Hack/Slash. Scream Queen is in a similar vein, but not quite up to the standard of some of its rivals on the comic shelf. The cover, and certainly the previews, gave a certain air of black comedy which doesn't appear in the first issue and the art, although technically fine, doesn't craft the atmosphere of a genuine horror tale. I enjoyed it, but a little more humour and less formulaic slasher movie pacing would keep me interested beyond issue two. 7/10

Writers: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Art: Fernando Pasarin & Rebecca Buchman
DC $2.99

Matt C: While the last few issues felt a bit leisurely in terms of plot progression, this one gets things moving again. The JSA are confronted by the skyscraper-sized Gog and forced to ask themselves an unusual theological question: is this being simply a supremely powerful alien lifeform, or is he truly “a god walking the Earth”. Throwing Black Adam into the mix makes me far more eager to see where this story is headed now. 7/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
Marvel/Icon $3.50

Matt C: Many of the greatest noir tales feature characters who - subconsciously at the very least – know they're heading towards tragedy and failure, no matter how hard they kid themselves otherwise. In every issue of Criminal, Brubaker & Phillips put one of these individuals under the spotlight, and the results are bleak but utterly compelling. Crime comics really don’t get any better than this. 9/10

Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Yildiray Cinar
Image $3.50

Matt C: This is more like it. I was feeling a little detached from the Noble clan since the reboot, almost like I was reading a different book entirely, but this clicked backed into place for me. Spot-on characterization, the right balance between superheroics and soap operatics, and another cliffhanging example of Faerber keeping readers on their toes. Noble Causes is on form again! 8/10

NOVA #14
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Wellinton Alves & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Another superb issue as Nova pleads with the Silver Surfer to convince his world-devouring master to back off from consuming a planet for a couple of hours and allow its inhabitants to flee. Abnett & Lanning give the recently reemployed Surfer a focus and depth that he’s lacked for quite a while, and maybe the time is ripe once more for another shot at his own series? If Marvel were to consider it, you can guess who I’d recommend for the writing gig! 9/10

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: John Romita Jr & Tom Palmer
Marvel/Icon $2.99

Matt T: A touch more humour is injected into Kick-Ass this issue, which is a real relief since it was starting to get bleaker than Eastenders. A few vicious rumors get our hero some undue attention, and then in over his head with some thugs. The realistic setting still works well, and the underlying optimism of the central character makes the more brutal sequences easier to take. John Romita Jr is on top form, and this proves that Mark Millar often does his best work on smaller, self-created comics without the words ‘Fantastic’ or ‘Four’ in the title. 8/10

Matt C: The ultra-violence is laid on even thicker than before as the plot becomes even more far-fetched. It remains a thoroughly entertaining read, with plenty of humour and some outstanding art from Romita Jr, but the conclusion to this issue is slightly over-the-top and may tip this series over the edge. We’ll see. 7/10

FX #4
Writer: Wayne Osborne
Art: John Byrne
IDW $3.99

Matt T: This comic just keeps up the pace with no-nonsense superheroics every issue, with #4 offering up that old chestnut of the team-up. Along with a mind-controlling villain - rather superbly called 'The Svengali' - FX finds a Fantastic Four analogue to battle and eventually join forces with. There's a secondary plot in the offing as well, making this a nostalgic trip back to a time when dressing up in spandex and battling bad guys had no consequences in the real world, much less any long gestating alien invasions to worry about. 8/10

Writer: Paul Dini
Art: Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs
DC $2.99

Matt C: A neat little all-in-one tale with the Caped Crusader and the Riddler both trying to be the first to solve a string of murders. Riddler jumping onto the right side of the law has worked surprisingly well and there’s a brilliant extended scene where a group of familiar faces all anonymously enter an internet chatroom to discuss detective tips. Recently it’s this kind of Batman story that’s been hitting the spot for me: simple, punchy and not tied in to some huge multi-book crossover. Unfortunately next month finds Detective falling under the Batman RIP umbrella, so it’ll be a safe bet to say I’ll give it a miss. 8/10

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Marcos Martin
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: If you were to do a straw poll amongst the varied individuals closely associated with the Paradox Comics Group, chances are you’d find only one firm supporter of the current direction of Amazing Spider-Man: me! A lot of people felt burnt by One More Day and many that stuck around weren’t convinced by the slow and slightly awkward start of Brand New Day. As far as I can tell, no amount of extolling from me will change their mind. Screw it then, it’s their loss! I loved these past three issues, they felt right, they felt like a Spider-Man story should feel, and Martin’s artwork has been exceptional. Yeah, One More Day left a bad taste in my mouth too, but I’m now prepared to say “water under the bridge” if Marvel ensures they don’t drop the ball anytime soon. 8/10

Writer: Duane Swiercynski
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: A slower pace to this comic, but nonetheless entertaining and retaining the Western tone. An elderly Cannonball manages to find a whole heap of trouble in the form of Cable, Bishop and a baby that may, or may not, be the secret to the future of all mutants. This of course means a bloody big battle and some soul searching on the part of Cable in this cracking title that benefits from being withdrawn from the current happenings in the Marvel U. The art works, and the potential for further time-travel related high jinx should mean a superb conclusion to this arc. 8/10

Writers: Jim Kruger & Alex Ross
Art: Steve Sadowski
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: It’s a nice idea, but two issues in and I find myself becoming more concerned about how this storyline will tie into current Marvel continuity instead of being sucked into the events transpiring on the pages, which is never a good sign. A few effective moments, such as the Winter Soldier’s reaction to the newspaper headlines, aren’t quite enough to hold my attention, and that final page was just dumb and out of character. 6/10

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