13 Jul 2008

Mini Reviews 13/7/2008

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.

Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Jim Muniz
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Finally a ‘f*ck yeah!’ moment in Last Defenders, although you have to wait for the last page to enjoy it. Trying to make Nighthawk some kind of ultra-important character in the creation of one of his arch enemies seems like a bit of a stretch, but at least it brings the big bad out of the shadows for the final issue. The art is a little marmite-esque, as a few scenes look too cartoony where as others are superb thanks to the emphasised movement. A pleasant mini that looks like it should end with a bang, and hopefully not the death of a central character that seems to be on the cards. 8/10

Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Tom Grummett
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: New Exiles is still ticking along, not really making any huge steps in a direction of a major storyline even if something has been hinted at for the past few issues. The spark has certainly been lost, and I get the feeling a change of writer would solve it. Don’t get me wrong, Claremont is great in the right environment, but trying to make Exiles like a conventional team book removes half the fun. 6/10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Geoff Johns & Jon Sibal
DC $2.99

Matt C: This is beginning to show signs of achieving classic status – it’s certainly the most excited I’ve been about a Superman tale in a long while. As before, this contains all the right elements for comic book excellence: warmth, humour, danger and exhilarating action. On top of Johns’ script, which amply displays his firm grasp of the central character and the universe he inhabits, Frank’s art brings the events to life with stunning clarity – some of the best work I’ve seen from him yet. Any Man Of Steel fans not currently reading this, take note: Action Comics is where it’s at! 9/10

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

Matt C: I’m still finding that the tie-in stories being told in the likes of Mighty Avengers and New Avengers are far more engrossing than the main event itself. There’s no sense of scale here; you’re more likely to get the impression that there are a few scattered incidents across the globe rather than a worldwide invasion. Bendis’ dialogue often sounds far too colloquial coming from certain characters, making it less convincing than it should be. It remains moderately entertaining but hasn’t yet come within reach of its potential. 6/10

Matt T: Fury is officially my favourite character in Secret Invasion! When he’s not being all cloak & dagger, creating super teams under the radar, he’s back to the kick-ass war Sergeant that doesn’t take chances, and makes sure his team doesn’t mess around. For what is essentially an issue-long fight scene with the odd talky bit thrown in, it holds up surprisingly well, and I’m glad there’s no sudden departures to explain what Howard the Duck has been doing for the last year and how he became a Skrull (Howard the Duck is not a Skrull by the way, I was trying to make a point. Or is he????). This has probably been my favourite issue since #1, and it’s in no small part to the ‘f*ck yeah!’ (my second of the week!) moment at the end. Now just keep it all at this level for the remaining four installments and I’ll be a happy fanboy. 9/10

NOVA #15
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Wellinton Alves, Geraldo Burges & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: The action may be relentless but Abnett & Lanning’s deft characterization never loses focus. Take, for example, this issue’s portrayal of Galactus: not a word spoken but if you came across this character for the first time here you’d get a pretty firm idea of his near-omnipotence. Alves’ fluid, energetic art injects further white-knuckle thrills, and while it’s sister book, Guardians Of The Galaxy, has a similar sense of propulsion, Nova still manages to outshine it. 8/10

BOOSTER GOLD #1,000,000
Writers: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
DC $2.99

Matt T: Although Booster Gold is still continuing, this is a conclusion of sorts. Chuck Dixon will be on writing duties for an issue, and after that a new team, so the superb run from Katz and Johns comes to an end. The last seven or so issues have been excellent fun, and kept what could have been a hackneyed and retcon-friendly idea alive without freely buggering up the already convoluted DC Universe. This is something of a sentimental issue as a result, with a limited amount of action but a few heart-warming scenes as Booster finally gets a reward of sorts for his hard work. The end is typically what we’ve come to expect from the book, and hints that the next team in charge should be able to keep the good work going. 9/10

Matt C: The final issue from Johns & Katz, and you wonder if the series can survive without them. It obvious they’ve had an absolute blast writing the character’s adventures and that sense of fun has been utterly infectious. A little more attention could have been given to the Blue Beetle’s demise but other than that, as parting shots go, this was a humdinger. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jason Pearson
DC $2.99

Matt C: I’m not bothering with the rest of this series of one-shots but I had to pick this one up to see how Jason Aaron fared in the Caped Crusader’s corner of the DC universe. Turns out he fares very well indeed: after an introduction by the Joker which felt a little forced, we get a creepy tale that exposes Oswald Cobblepot for the monster he really is. Pearson’s art creates a spooky ambience as Aaron digs into the mind of a sociopath. Unnerving stuff, skilfully presented. 8/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Avon Oeming
Marvel/Icon $3.95

Matt T: Charging an extra dollar for a book simply because it’s not on time - and rarely is - seems like something of a swizz. Then again, having to wait another six months for a very convenient and all-too-perfect ending such as the one in Powers would have pissed me off even more, so I suppose this bumper issue is the lesser of two evils. Returning the status quo for an ‘all new arc’, as quoted on the cover, says “You won’t see us again for a frickin’ year! At least!” to me. It’s not that Powers isn’t entertaining, or frequently some of the best stuff Bendis is writing, but I’m not that hung up on it that I can be bothered to wait around. It’s good, but it ain’t that good. 7/10

Matt C: I think I’m getting closer to the point where I part ways with Powers. Back in the early part of the decade, when the book was fresh and original, it felt untouchable. Since then it’s been on so many tangents, strayed so far away from what used to make it appealing that I find myself sticking it to the bottom of my pile, like I’m putting off reading it, like it’s become a chore. To be fair, this current arc did get back to the cops-investigating-superpowered-crime concept but while it was entertaining at first it’s started to drag, not really doing anything that I feel like I haven’t seen before. I never thought I’d see the day when I dropped Powers, but when this arc is done I think I will be too. 6/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Tim Sale
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I’ve been quite critical about Loeb’s work since his return to Marvel and for the most part I’ve been avoiding it. Couldn’t turn my back on this one though: when Loeb collaborates with Tim Sale, magic happens. Still, the memory of Ultimates 3 #1 lingered in my mind as opened the pages….. and instantly evaporated! It may only be a teaser issue, a fairly faithful retelling of the introduction of Bucky, but it looks amazing, reads well and should appeal to any fan of Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-Man: Blue and Hulk: Gray. Great things are expected! 8/10

Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Yilldirry & Ryan Vera
Image $3.50

Matt T: This clever twist on the usual superhero genre hasn’t hung around much since the re-launch, with the central story getting an issue or two away from the conclusion. The alarming speed at which sub-plots are dismissed or resolved is perhaps a reason for this, leaving Noble Causes with only a singular plotline to hold onto. It isn’t a terrible shame though, as it’s reasonably thrilling, but I’m a little disappointed that with so many characters there isn’t more going on in the background. 7/10

Writers: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Art: Fernando Pasarin, Prentis Rollins & John Stanisci
DC $2.99

Matt C: At last, this series seem to have found its feet once again, as the multi-storey Gog wanders through Africa, performing miracles as he goes, causing several of the JSA to question their beliefs. An all-powerful godlike being getting directly involved in the affairs of mortal men is usually a recipe for disaster (remember the Beyonder!), and even if you’re not familiar with Kingdom Come it’s impossible to escape the impression that the situation is on the brink of taking a turn for the worse. 8/10

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