6 Jul 2008

Mini Reviews 6/7/2008

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.

NB. Due to delays in shipping to the UK over the last month some of the books reviewed here may have been released prior to this week.



ASTONISHING X-MEN #25
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Simone Bianchi
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Hardly the most auspicious start on an X-book and, considering the fireworks he’s been igniting elsewhere, something of a disappointment from Ellis. There’s a certain smugness to the characters that brings to mind Grant Morrison’s tenure on New X-Men, and the story doesn’t have much in the way of a hook to whet the appetite for the next instalment. Bianchi has legions of fans, and I have enjoyed some of his work in the past, but here the art seems to lack panache, which it isn’t helped by the unnecessarily muddy colouring from Joe Caramagna. I’m prepared to cut Ellis some slack and stick around for a short while based on his status as one of the best writers in the business, but if the quality doesn’t improve it’ll mean yet another X-title off the list for this once diehard mutant fanboy. 6/10


SQUADRON SUPREME 2 #1
Writer: Howard Chaykin
Art: Marco Turini
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: After the Ultimate Power mini - which I stopped caring about by the last issue - the Supreme universe was left in disarray. This relaunch follows a similar path to the original 80s run, which also had the public losing faith in the team after a massive event. So far the new characters, who are thrown in with seeming abandon, aren’t half as interesting as the old ones, but as this issue actually came out on time I willing to give Howard Chaykin the benefit of the doubt. I hope the schedule doesn’t slip though, as the last run suffered badly as a result. 7/10


HIGH ROLLERS #1
Writer: Gary Phillips
Art: Sergio Martin Carrera
Boom! Studios $3.99


Matt C: A whole mess of gangsta clich├ęs turn up in this debut issue from Boom! Studios. You’ve got your banger who reads the likes of Art Of War, the college kid who gets tempted away from books by the prospect of large of amounts of cash, the spineless brother-in-law up to his eyeballs in debt - it’s all rather tiresome and the occasional hint of some digging deeper past the stereotypes isn’t enough to sustain my interest. 4/10


ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL #10
Writer: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch
Art: David Messina, Shaynne Corbett, Nick Runge & Art Lyon
IDW $3.99


Matt T: Finally, this book has found a degree of consistency after feeling it necessary to tell every character’s back-story regardless of how interesting it might be. Being back with the original story proves how interesting Angel can be and how the multiple threads are weaved together superbly. It helps that the majority of the groundwork with Wesley, Spike, Angel and co was laid down in the TV series, but each has also gained a few new traits and foibles. It’s a shame the art is still annoyingly patchy, as more detailed work would suit this book far better. 6/10


AVENGERS/INVADERS #3
Writer: Jim Krueger
Art: Steve Sadowski
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: I still have no idea how this is going to be stretched out over twelve issues, unless each one features a current-character-against-WW2-counterpart throwdown. Granted, Namor was the most likely candidate to fight himself since he’s the kind of guy who could start a fight in a empty room. The art doesn’t differentiate the old from the new enough for my liking, but the fight scene is reasonably well rendered. Again, no idea where it’s going, or how Marvel canon will be effected in the long run, but if the pace is kept this brisk it shouldn’t matter too much. 7/10


JONAH HEX #33
Writers:Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Darwyn Cooke
DC $2.99


Matt C: Jonah Hex has been a series I can take or leave: entertaining but hardly essential. Hire a certain artist for a guest spot and you can guarantee I’ll pick up the issue though. That artist? None other than Darwyn Cooke, a man who can transform a blank page into a thing of wonder and beauty. What this issue does is highlight how much the comics medium is a collaboration between both writer and artist: alone, this script is very well written but slightly hackneyed in it’s execution, and in the hands of a lesser talent would be enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. In the hands of Cooke it becomes something to treasure and something his fans won’t want to miss. 8/10


BLUE BEETLE #28
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Art: David Baldeon
DC $2.99


Matt T: A pleasant standalone story giving the original Blue Beetle some coverage, as the latest incarnation takes on one of his foes. Being that the last few issues have been of a similar ilk, it's about time Blue Beetle got a longer storyline. The art and writing are perfectly passable, and the story relatively engaging, but the character deserves a more drama. 7/10


CABLE #5
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: This twisting, turning sci-fi Western has packed more tension into its opening five issues than most manage in double that, and it doesn’t look like letting up soon. Bishop’s pursuit of Cable is reminiscent of the likes of Terminator, and thankfully the supposed infant saviour of mutantkind is being used as far more than a plot device in diapers. The art is still doing the business, as Ariel Olivetti’s chunky style works far better here than it did in Punisher: War Journal. A cracking read that’s fast becoming a real favourite. 9/10


NEW AVENGERS #42
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Jim Cheung & John Dell
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Stop with the frickin' back-stories!! Please. I know the Secret Invasion is clever and none of us saw the majority of the Skrull agents coming, but can we get back to the present? I honestly don’t care when the specific people got replaced, I’m more interested with how they impact on the current universe. Instead we’re treated to “Aren’t we clever, we had you all fooled!” again. I’d like to find out who else is a Skrull, not have the existing ones rammed down my throat for another five issues. This isn’t a badly drawn or written book, but Marvel need to find a new tack. 4/10

Matt C: Bendis continues to impress as he delves further into the opening stages of the Skrull infiltration, giving us a better understanding of how they laid the groundwork for the invasion. The way he shows us a different perspective on some of the major events in the Marvel Universe over the last few years is pretty impressive – almost has you believing that he planned this all along!! A sequence where the “camera” pans around a room full of debating Skrulls once more displays Cheung’s visual ingenuity and gives what could have been a dull succession of talking heads a real sense of urgency. 8/10


NOBLE CAUSES #35
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Yildiray Cinar
Image $3.50


Matt C: Turns out last month’s cliffhanger wasn’t really a cliffhanger at all; instead we find out it was the set up to a rather lame gag. Not only does it leave the reader feeling short-changed, it vexes because you know Faerber is capable of much more. Other than that, it’s business as usual: some decent character work, a smattering of action but – and I know I’m seesawing with my monthly opinion here - also the resurgence of the feeling that this book doesn’t quite match up to how it used to be. 6/10


AVENGERS: INITIATIVE #14
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Stefano Caselli
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: As clever as the Secret Invasion may be, the fact that Hank Pym is becoming ever-present in every Avengers book is starting to get annoying. Granted, he was a relatively major character, but it wasn’t exactly a hammer blow that he was revealed as green and bumpy-chinned. The fact that he’s in Initiative, being green and bumpy chinned again, seems like overkill to me. A little more concentration on the team members would be good, as the slightly random appearance of the 3-D Man (the 3-D Man? Really???) seems more like it should be a backup in another book, or in one of those sampler comics that seem to come out before every major event. The few pages featureing the bootcamp lot are the most interesting in the book, so here’s hoping next issue will get back on track. 5/10


FX #5
Writer: Wayne Osbourne
Art: John Byrne
IDW $3.99

Matt T: The pure, unadulterated madness of this breakneck-speed book always brings a smile to my face, as there’s rarely a dull panel (even if the backgrounds fall to the wayside every once in a while). Plot threads weaved in the last few issues are coming to fruition, as the title character has to fight his supernaturally poisoned best friend as well as deal with a talking lion, amongst other things. The fact that FX exists within it’s own universe means it has the potential to go in any direction it feels like, but also characters can turn up that require more explanation than a single comic can provide. I’m still loving it, and I hope the pace doesn’t slow anytime soon. 8/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #564
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale & Dan Slot
Art: Paulo Siqueira & Amilton Santos
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Spidey does Rashomon as we get three different perspectives on a ruckus between the wallcrawler and the vehicle-altering super-villain, Overdrive. It’s a slightly throwaway issue but it’s quite fun and the three writers retain a consistent, light-hearted tone throughout. 7/10



STATION #1
Writer: Johanna Stokes
Art: Leno Carvalho
Boom! Studios $3.99


Matt C: A whodunit aboard the international space station: not exactly an original idea but as movies like 2001, Alien and Sunshine have shown us, shit going bad when your trapped in a confined space millions of mile from home is a good recipe for tension and excitement. What’s missing from this book is the slow-build – we’re barely familiar with any of the characters before tragedy strikes, and without any attachment to them it’s a little hard to care for their predicament. Readable but pretty unmemorable. 5/10


DYNAMO 5 #14
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Mahmud A. Asrar
Image $2.99


Matt T: This feels like something of a filler issue, mainly because of the seemingly relentless pace of the last thirteen. The team’s downtime is used as an opportunity to introduce new character Vigil, who strangely enough is a street vigilante, and is hopefully more interesting than an angry lady in spandex. A quieter issue, which I was expecting after the last few, but there’s not enough of the title characters to keep my interest to the same level as before. 7/10

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