10 Aug 2008

Mini Reviews 10/8/2008

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: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Simon Coleby
Wildstorm/DC $2.99

Matt C: For me, Wildstorm’s fortunes took a turn for the worse the moment they put the kibosh on Joe Casey’s groundbreaking run on Wildcats. It was the laughable attempt at relaunching both The Authority and Wildcats with Grant Morrison at the helm that pushed them past the point of no return, with the former title only managing two issues and the latter a pathetic single issue. I really thought I was done with the Wildstorm Universe at that point, but the prospect of a decent writing team taking a crack at bringing back The Authority, and remembering just how good the title was in its heyday, was enough to entice me back to see if there was any trace of the magic left in the property.

I have no idea what’s happened within the Wildstorm Universe recently, some sort of apocalyptic catastrophe from the looks of it, but it does smack of desperation to a certain extent, like they had nowhere else to go. Still, Abnett & Lanning have proven their writing chops recently with the likes of Nova and Annihilation: Conquest and in all honestly there’s no way you could say this is badly written. Trouble is, it doesn’t feel like it matters anymore; the uniqueness that originally bought the title to prominence has long gone, in no small part due to the legions of imitators that followed. So, while perfectly readable and entertaining, with some suitably grim art from Coleby, there’s no sense that the book will have any longevity. I hate to say it, but The Authority, and for that matter the Wildstorm line in general, look like they’ve gone past their sell-by date. 6/10

FX #6
Writer: Wayne Osborne
Art: John Byrne
IDW $3.99

Matt T: The last issue (for the time being at least) keeps up the manic pace of the preceding five, packing in twice as much action as most mainstream books. The final fight is barely built up, but there‘s plenty of energy therein and a fair amount of retro-style fun to be had. I‘m hoping FX will be back soon, as there isn‘t enough teenage superheroes books around at the moment with this level of innocence and an obvious love for the characters. 9/10

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

Matt C: The further we get along with this series, the more apparent it is that Brubaker and Phillips aren’t creating stories that exist independently from each other; instead, their building a world (an underworld?) populated by thieves, pimps, hustlers, femme fatales and numerous other damaged individuals. Each tale may focus on a specific character but there are plenty of familiar faces popping up in the background. Easily one of the best books being published by anyone, anywhere. 9/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Fraction’s bringing his A-game to this book and it’s rapidly positioning itself as one of Marvel’s premier titles thanks to its thrilling mix of action, humour and intelligence. While the main storyline holds the intention, it’s the accumulation of great moments that make it stand out from the pack, whether it’s Stark and Reed Richards playing multiple games of chess during a chat, or a wonderfully bitchy tête-à-tête between Tony and Maria Hill, or the touching scene where Pepper gets a demonstration of what the new implant in her chest can really do. 8/10

Writer: Jim Krueger & Alex Ross
Art: Steve Sadowski
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: It‘s still proving a little tricky to work out how this book will keep going for 12 issues, especially since the story isn‘t going anywhere beyond people getting captured and rescued. It‘s a reasonably entertaining distraction from anything Skrull-related though, and in spite of all its problems it's my favourite Avengers book currently on the shelves. 7/10

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: J.G. Jones
DC $3.99

Matt T: The pace has definitely altered somewhat, but the outlook is still pretty bleak. DC‘s main concept for Final Crisis being ‘the villains win‘ makes it a depressing read in places, and it doesn‘t instil much in the way of hope. Thankfully more of the big guns turn up rather than the decidedly random characters featured in the last issue, shifting the story along at a more meaningful pace. The reappearance of the Flashes is a little confusing, but as this is a big event book at least one character has to die or be resurrected. 7/10

Matt C: So far the overriding feeling when reading Final Crisis is that it’s been a collection of scenes and threads with very little in common. In other words, there’s been a distinct lack of cohesiveness in the narrative. There are indications in this issue that things will finally start coming together and making sense, but while there’s still a lot to appreciate within its pages it does feel quite distant and cold. I’ll see it through to the conclusion but I’m hardly enthralled. 6/10

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Art: Luca Rossi & Steve Rolston
DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt T: The very nature of this book makes it something of a lumpy read, moving from the central story of a woman stuck in the eponymous house, and a tale from one of the inhabitants. There are still plenty of questions requiring answers, and the end of this issue doesn‘t really provide any. Instead yet more questioned are raised, meaning the pace will definitely have to quicken if I‘m to keep buying it. 7/10

Writer: Matz
Art: Luc Jacamon
Archaia Studios Press $3.95

Matt C: Last time this book came out my wife wasn’t even pregnant – she’s now due to bring a little bundle of joy into our lives within the next few days. That’s a pretty major delay! Sometimes I think it would be easier to learn French than wait for each issue of this translated edition to make an appearance. Still, you have to give Archaia credit for putting the book out there in the first place, and they have admitted the difficulties they’ve been experiencing as their company has grown, so I feel it’s worth cutting them some slack. It also helps that this is an exceptionally good read, with more existential musings from the central character as he tries to figure who’s put out a hit on him. God knows when the next issue will be out, but one thing I know for sure is that it’ll be worth the wait. 8/10

Writer: Duane Swiercynski
Art: Michel Lacombe & Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Something of a filler issue, detailing how Cyclops ‘knows‘ Cable is in trouble. The slow paced scramble to find a way of getting a message to the future is a slightly jarring change from the futuristic Western I‘ve become used to, but hopefully the seeds lain here won‘t be immediately forgotten in the next issue. It still manages to maintain its momentum ensuring it remains one of my favourite reads. 8/10

Writer: Grath Ennis
Art: Jacen Burrows
Avatar $1.00

Matt C: The price-tag, along with the knowledge that this is the same team behind the excellent Chronicles Of Wormwood, is more than enough reason to pick up this teaser issue. It seems to be Ennis’s take on the recent resurgence in popularity in the zombie genre so, while it’s too early to see where it’s headed, you kind of know it’ll be anything but predictable. 7/10

Matt T: Reading something like a combination of a zombie movie and the first episode of Heroes, Crossed is one of the seemingly thousands of books Garth Ennis is putting out at the moment. It has the trademark gruesome touches, and a fair bit of colourful language, but the overall post-apocalyptic feel translates well making the future for the series look reasonably rosy. 8/10

Writer: J. Michael Stracynski
Art: Chris Weston
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Over halfway through, and this book is still a damn good read. Captain Wonder goes through the wringer again, this time thanks to the reappearance of his aging and superbly-named sidekick, Tim! The Phantom Reporter looks set to uncover the true nature of the Black Widow, and the Blue Blade continues to be a complete arse. Having so many threads without them seeming disjointed is one of the main advantages of The Twelve, as is the feeling that the conclusion will be a real barnstormer. 9/10

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Greg Scott & Kody Chamberlain
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I missed out on this one-shot last week after feeling slightly underwhelmed by the latest series of newuniversal, but after James R let me know it had his seal of approval I decided to belatedly check it out. This is Gillen’s first work for Marvel after making his mark with the interesting but rather self-important Phonogram at Image, and on this evidence it looks like he won’t be out of work any time soon. An absorbing glimpse at the results of the previous “White Event” in the 1950s - where the decision is made that the only good superhuman is a dead superhuman - this is a dark tale where decent men are forced to do bad things believing it will protect the future of their country. Sterling stuff and well worth a look. 8/10

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