20 Jul 2008

Mini Reviews 20/7/2008

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: Andrew Kreisberg
Art: Matthew
JLD Rice
Arcana $2.99

Matt T: And the true motivation behind the villain’s nefarious plot is revealed as….. the telephone?!?!? This book couldn’t get much more mental if it tried, but being called Helen Killer certainly helps set the reader up for the approaching insanity. The art has certainly improved since #1, and I’m really enjoying the struggles of the title character to keep her inner demons at bay. With only one issue left this fun little read will definitely encourage me to keep an eye out for both Andrew Kreisberg and Matthew JLD Rice to see what craziness they come up with next. 8/10

Writer: Timothy Truman
Art: Tomas Giorello & Richard Corben
Dark Horse Comics $2.99

Matt C: Off to a great start as a wounded Conan hears about one of his grandfather’s youthful adventures. Guest artist Corben’s distinctive style fits the tone nicely while Giorello improves with every issue. Truman appears to understand implicitly the essence and nature of Howard’s fantasy world and this timely relaunch has totally reinvigorated my interest in the series. 8/10

Writer: Mike Benson
Art: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: Every once in a while the sceptic inside is right, as I found out in this month’s issue of Moon Knight. “Paying $3.99 is too much, there must be a catch!” it said. And as usual, it was right. With two backup stories from early issues of Werewolf By Night, only around half the comic was new content, which was filler at best. This issue is definitely one for Werewolf By Night fans, or those too cheap to buy Moon Knight’s first appearance (like me!). 6/10

MARVEL 1985 #3
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Tommy Lee Edwards
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: One of Millar’s strengths as a writer is his ability to capture the humanity of his characters, but its something he often forgoes in favour of being perceived as cool, clever and postmodern. This issue served as a reminder that Millar can still emotionally connect to his audience with a number of father & son scenes that fizzed with honesty. It’s still not wholly clear where all this is headed, and there is the danger that Millar will get dead-ended by his own “supervillians in the real world” concept, but now we’re now at the halfway stage it’s heartening to see that he hasn’t dropped the ball yet. 7/10

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Eric Basaldu & Blond
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: This UFF story turned out to be a heck of a lot more intelligent than I first thought. The twist in the tale was a little sudden, but not too contrived as many others of the same ilk. Namor’s reappearance should make for yet another throwdown, hopefully forcing the annoyingly angsty Reed Richards to man up a bit and fight for his woman. One slight problem I have with this issue is the overly aggressive inking, which ruins some of the depth in the artwork. Otherwise, thoroughly readable stuff. 7/10

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

Matt C: Still fun, but this issue loses points thanks to an extended fight scene in which it’s not always entirely clear what’s happening. I’ve generally been impressed with Sandoval’s work and while it’s not exactly “bad” here, there really needed to be a little more clarity to the action. The humour and likeability of the characters pull it through, but I’m undecided if this Secret Invasion crossover will prove to be worthwhile. 7/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: The intrigue is still being filtered into the pages of Cap with impressive skill, although the doppelganger story is a little disappointing compared to recent ones. There will doubtless be plenty of twists and turns ahead, and I know better than to doubt Brubaker’s steady hand, but my enthusiasm for the book is starting to wane as a couple of the sub-plots are dragging. Getting at least one of either the preggers Sharon Carter/50s Cap/Red Skull’s president elect out of the way will probably go some way to remove that slight feeling that Cap is starting to tread water when it should be swimming for shore. 8/10

Matt C: I’m guessing #50 is where this epic storyline will finally reach its resolution and hopefully we’ll start seeing signs of it on the horizon soon. I’m loather to criticize this book as it remains an absolute highlight on Marvel’s roster, but there is a nagging sense that it’s lost its momentum over the last few issues. I feel kind of guilty saying that when the art and writing remain at such a consistently high standard, but if you’re used to getting sheer brilliance on a monthly basis anything less starts to seem like a cause for concern. Still, even a lesser issue of Captain America is far superior to the majority of stuff out there. 8/10

Writer: Peter David
Art: Larry Stroman & Jon Sibal
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: I had high hopes for X-Factor after the change of direction at the end of last issue, but the artwork really spoils what could have been a decent story. The proportions are all wrong, everyone has piggy eyes and some parts don’t look finished. Add to that the Longshot/Skrull subplot that gets a little confusing when trying to amp up the tension and it will more than likely be dropsville for me. The cover art is good though. 3/10

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Phil Jimnez & Mark Pennington
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: A diverting tale of mistaken identity that see Peter’s new flat mate dressed up as Spidey and getting the shit kicked out of him by a female Kraven. Meanwhile Parker swings about trying to find his costume in the guise of another famous New York superhero (can you guess who?). Referencing the classic Kraven’s Last Hunt so many times perhaps isn’t the best idea unless your going to pull something truly startling out of the hat, but while I’m not sold on this new supervillain, this arc has been readable so far. 6/10

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

Matt C: Easily the weakest of the recent “Several Months Ago” issues, this doesn’t offer anything that feels particularly essential or insightful. Pham’s art - so exciting during his stint on Incredible Hercules recently - disappoints again in his second Avengers issue which is a shame since Bendis’ slim script relies heavily on visuals. One to skip. 4/10

Matt T: I’m getting déjà vu. Didn’t the back story of (insert Marvel character revealed to be a Skrull) get told in (insert any current Avengers book, or anything with the words Secret or Invasion) last time? Oh, wait, that’s right, all of those books have been dedicated to telling these pointless back-stories I don’t care about. How did Elektra become a Skrull? Don’t care. But stop calling the books that feature anything of a similar ilk Avengers. Because at no point do the Avengers show up. And having a lesbo moment between Spider-Woman and Elektra doesn’t make up for it in any way, shape or form. 2/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Davide Furno
DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt C: Jesus, are the characters in this book messed up or what?! With enough skeletons to fill up several closets, the population of the Praire Rose Reservation seem to be damned from birth. This is not a criticism of course as the doomed atmosphere that hangs over the town only makes it that much more compelling. There’s a glorious post-coital scene featuring two people avoiding chances to really connect; a moment of poignancy amidst the gloom that rings true and stands as an excellent example of how this series just gets under the skin. 8/10

Writer: Harold Sipe
Art: Hector Casanova
Image $2.99

Matt T: As one of this books biggest fans so far, I’m more than a little disappointed to see it end. Mainly because getting any kind of satisfying conclusion out of a mini that was essentially four intertwined character studies was going to be tricky at best. None of the biting satire has gone though, as the monsters finally get to flex their respective muscles in the fabled Hollywood movie they’ve been building up to, and the MTV-style director is an amalgam of many franchise-ruining arseholes we fanboys have come to know and hate-mail. As a last issue it doesn’t quite ring as true as the others, but few comics are so cleverly conceived and executed without blowing it all on a flashy finish. Typically understated, and a fitting end. 8/10

Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Andy Suriano
Image $2.50

Matt C: Brain-melting. That’s all I can think of to describe this book at the moment as it continues its colourful assault on the senses, even more so than Casey’s Godland. I haven’t quite figured out what’s going on yet – every time I think I’ve almost got it cracked I get distracted by Casey’s lunatic prose or Suriano’s hallucinogenic art – but if it continues in this entertaining manner I not sure I’ll be that fussed if I ever get my head around the plot. 7/10

No comments: