27 Jul 2008

Mini Reviews 27/07/08

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: Mark Millar
Art: Tony Harris & Cliff Rathburn
Image $2.99

Matt C: Millar’s hardly covering new ground here, and God knows why they pitched it to us as the story Ultimates 3 would’ve been if the writer had stayed on that book (the usual Millar hyperbole bullshit, probably), but this definitely has potential. Set in the near future where terrorist atrocities on US soil are a frequent occurrence (so common in fact that the public hasn’t any faith that sending thousands of troops to the Middle East is solving the problem) the government decides to try a new tack: come join the army and get given superpowers! Harris’s incredibly distinctive art is a positive factor and Millar turns in a decent set-up, so fingers-crossed this goes the distance. 7/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Billy Tan
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: A character who pretty obviously was a Skrull is revealed to be..... a Skrull! I'm so shocked I might keel over. Having a back story for such an obvious reveal is annoying to say the least, especially as those shown exiting the ship in Secret Invasion have almost all been eliminated as Skrulls, which renders their appearance entirely pointless. If one character isn't a Skrull, it might not be a complete bust, but I'm not holding my breath. 5/10

Matt C: The second Secret Invasion-related Avengers book in a row that seems utterly superfluous and unnecessary. Without getting into spoiler territory, you do come away wondering where the logic in this part of the Skrulls strategy was. Tan’s art is very nice though, but that’s about it on the recommendation front. 4/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Art: Greg Land & Terry Dodson
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I can't believe that dropping in another artist and writer with such a jarring amount of changeovers was a long thought out editorial decision, so I can only think the book was going to be late so had to rescued. The results are something of a deja vu situation, as the X-Men battle Magneto within their new home of San Francisco. Not being sure as to whether he was still depowered or not I went along with the relatively telegraphed plot, and the High Evolutionary might be a touch hokey as a big bad, but at least he's been established early in what was a solid start for the new X-team. 8/10

Matt C: It’s habit that’s got me this far with Uncanny because, even though Brubaker’s delivering the good elsewhere, his take on the X-Men has never quite reached the heights you’d expect from him. I was hoping Fraction coming onboard as co-writer would give this title the shot in the arm it desperately needs but so far that hasn’t occurred. This issue wasn’t bad, it just didn’t grab me by the throat and demand my attention like it should have done. The rather random way the art alternated between Land and Dodson didn’t make much sense structurally and the only thing that really caught my interest was the appearance of the High Evolutionary. I’ll come back for the next issue, but how far my collection will go beyond that point is up in the air at the moment. 6/10

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason, Drew Geraci & Prentis Rollins
DC $2.99

Matt C: Disappointing, because I really thought Tomasi was going to rejuvenate this title – instead, we’ve had a rather dull and forgettable story that’s lead up to this predictable cosmic punch-up in which characterisation has taken a backseat. Yet another DC title I’ll be dropping then. 4/10

Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Gary Erksine
Virgin $5.99

Matt T: I'm probably one of the few still reading this, which isn't surprising judging from the last issue. Half is pointless filler that jumps in just when the action is getting going, and the rest is reasonably cliched action sequences. As much as this series has been a trip down memory lane, I realized I didn't really know the character well enough to feel nostalgic, and the comic in general wasn't good enough to inspire with any new interest. 6/10

Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Travel Foreman & Russ Heath
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: It was pretty obvious this wouldn’t match up to Brubaker and Fraction’s take on the character, but I had to allow Swierczynski the benefit of the doubt and give this a shot. It’s not too bad, flowing quite nicely from what’s come before, but that ever-present spark of genius that was always apparent in the preceding sixteen issues has now been snuffed out. If I didn’t pick up so many books a month already I might be more willing to see where this one goes, but for the time being me and Iron Fist are parting ways. 6/10

Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Art: Koi Turnbull & Sal Regla
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: This title seems to be bimbling along a bit without any real direction and long term aims, as the majority of the interesting sub-plots have been sown up. The only one left, being the identity of Night Thrasher, is one the reader was let in on a long time ago, making the team's lack of knowledge extremely grating. I'm hoping something longer term will crop up soon, or the promising start will have been for nothing. 6/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Avatar $2.99

Matt C: An enjoyable conclusion to this mini-series which, although never quite living up to its initial promise, has consistently entertained. Unlike some of Ellis’s work, the ideas didn’t overwhelm the story here - they gave the tale its framework but never intruded on the characterization. Ryp’s hyper-detailed art has been a highlight and for anyone who missed the boat this’ll be worth a look in the collected format. 7/10

Writer: Christos N Gage
Art: Fernando Blanco & Frank Martin
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Warren Ellis leaving Thunderbolts will certainly put a certain amount of pressure on the new team, and Christos N Gage gets off to a reasonably straightforward start. The previous character development, such a Venom becoming less in control of himself, hasn't been discarded completely. The appearance of Captain Marvel isn't exactly one I'm keen on, as the rebirth of the character was contrived and pointless in my view. A decent, if not stunning, start. 7/10

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

Matt C: Damn! Now that was a cliffhanger and a half! This is good enough to have me pining for the days of Gotham Central: Brubaker and Rucka produce a tense and exciting script while Lark and Gaudiano’s art injects the proceedings with a noirsh realism. I’m just hoping Brubaker can sustain this level of quality once Rucka departs because although this book’s been slipping down the list recently, if it continues along this path there’s not a lot stopping it from returning to the top. 8/10

Writer: Dan Slott & Christos N Gage
Art: Harvey Tolibao & Jay David Ramos
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Much like the other Avengers books, the Avengers normally featured don't actually turn up. What's left is the 3D Man, who seems to be especially crap at being a Skrull-hunter, and the Crusader who is actually a Skrull. Neither characters are desperately interesting, and the 3D Man is very twee. Thanks to yet another back story the overall Skrull war isn't moved on much once more, and all the reader is left with is an indication of who isn't a double agent. I'm sorry, but I want this whole thing to be over a quickly as possible so I can get some of my favourite titles back. 6/10

Writers: Various
Art: Various
Image $1.99

Matt C: A pretty cool way to get the attention of new readers by packaging short stories of similarly-themed characters together in a cheap one-shot. I only really picked this up for the Proof short, and to be honest, although readable, none of the other three tales really piqued my curiosity enough to check out the ongoings. I can’t fault the idea though. 6/10

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Art: Ed Benes
DC $2.99

Matt T: The art isn't quite up to the usual high standard this month, but the rest of the book is very well executed. I'm not a massive fan of absorbing characters, as they simply seem like the perfect folly to simply throw big, flashy splash pages at without ever doing anything significant. As Amazo has been through an impressive evolution, and the conclusion to this story is allowing Vixen to have some much needed character development, I'm really enjoying this at the moment. 9/10

Writers: Warren Ellis & Mike Wolfer
Art: Oscar Jimenez
Avatar $3.99

Matt C: I enjoyed the previous adventures of William Gravel in the various Strange Killings minis with their fairly straightforward narratives: SAS Combat Magician Gravel sent on missions usually resulting in plenty of profanity and gory violence. This series hasn’t even tried to copy that formula, which some would say is to its credit, but it’s not really doing it for me. It feels like it’s starting to take itself too seriously as the titular character chases around the countryside looking for pieces of an ancient, mystical manuscript. Put simply, it’s not really much fun anymore, and it’s certainly not the book I thought it would be. 5/10

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