31 Aug 2008

Mini Reviews 31/8/2008

Neither 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.


KICK-ASS #4
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: John Romita Jr & Tom Palmer
Marvel/Icon $2.99


Matt C: I have no idea where Millar is going with this anymore as the violence and situations get more outlandish, but I’m quite willing to follow him wherever he takes me. I’m also curious to see how Matthew Vaughn will handle the Nicolas Cage-starring movie adaptation since the amount of blood splattered around in these pages is the kind of thing that would make Hollywood studios very nervous. It’s pretty obvious that Romita Jr is relishing the chance to produce artwork far, far more gore-drenched than is his usual forte and I don’t know if Kick-Ass would be nearly as effective without his input. 7/10

Matt T: For all the fanfare, delays and under-shipping, Kick-Ass started to seem a little more like a standard superhero book this issue. Not because of the display of powers, because there still aren't any. Nor the ludicrous villain, as he's firmly in the shadows and very much believable in a Goodfellas-style. The violence is amped up to make Kick-Ass tread into territory Millar seemed to be trying to avoid, and removing some of the sheen that marked the book out before. In a scene at the end the grotesqueness is increased to ludicrous levels, making me feel more than a little worried that Kick-Ass may soon descend into the mire of uber-violent vigilante books sooner than anyone reading the title would have wanted. 6/10


NOVA #16
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Wellinton Alves, Geraldo Barges & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Kl’rt, the original (and best) Super-Skrull appears in this issue and is somewhat disgruntled that a bunch of inferior wannabes have taken his place. Nova is somewhat disgruntled (to put it midly) upon learning his homeworld is being invaded by the Skrull Armada. Cue another outstanding instalment of this exceptionally good series packed with the usual satisfying blend of action, excitement, humour and a few unexpected twists. 9/10


HALLOWEEN: 30 YEARS OF TERROR #1
Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Daniel Zezelj, Jim Daly, Brett Weldele, Jeffrey Zornow & Tim Seeley
Devil’s Due Publishing $5.50


Matt T: The very nature of the multi-scripted one-shot makes them bloody annoying to review, because they all invariably end up being ‘some good, some bad‘. The fact that Halloween: 30 Years Of Terror is all written by the same fella who also wrote the previous Halloween mini made me feel a little more confident. Maybe not $5.50 confident, but confident nonetheless. The results are annoyingly piecemeal, with a couple of stories hitting the mark, but most being annoyingly like cookie-cutter slasher stories. And the last one is just odd. 5/10


JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #18
Writers: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Art: Dale Eaglesham, Mick Gray, Kris Justice, Nathan Massengill & Jerry Ordway
DC $2.99


Matt C: This quasi-sequel to Kingdom Come is proving to be extremely frustrating. Just when things get moving and the pace quickens, it then shifts down a gear and we get an issue that relies heavily on padding. If I were to hazard a guess I would say this is Ross’ doing as he seems to like long, occasionally ponderous, epics (Justice, Earth X), and while that sometimes works, other times you just want to hurry up and get to the meat of the story. There’s still plenty of great moments here, and overall I’m really enjoying this series; this just sticks out as one of the weaker issues. 6/10


AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #16
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Stefano Caselli & Luca Malisan
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: When the Secret Invasion started, I was embarrassed to admit I didn‘t know a whole lot about the Skrulls. Other than being shape-shifters who annoyed the majority of the Marvel U, primarily the Fantastic Four, I wasn‘t too clued up. So I did what any comic fan does in times such as this and hit Wikipedia. That‘s when I found out about the Skull Kill Krew. Other than the fantastically business-like name, their origin was superb: Reed Richards manages to convince some Skrulls they were cows, the cows were made into burgers and other meat products, which people then ate, giving them Skrull-like powers. Awesome. So when they cropped up in the recently ailing Avengers: The Initiative I was a little distressed, as I hoped the intriguing characters I‘d spent hours reading up about weren‘t going to being ruined. Fortunately this wasn‘t the case, as their straightforward brutality has been retained, and the previously bland 3D Man has now gained some personality. Hopefully the SKK will stick around, as I definitely want to see more from them. 8/10


DAREDEVIL #110
Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: This arc has given Daredevil a veritable kick up the backside at a point where it looked like the Matt Murdock was going to be locked into self-pity forever. This read like a gripping episode of a crime/superhero hybrid series, and that kind of approach won’t get any complaints from me. Hopefully Brubaker can keep the momentum going when he goes back to being the solo writer because, as one character points out in this issue, Murdock really needs some wins. 8/10


BLUE BEETLE #30
Writer: Matthew Sturges
Art: Rafael
Albuquerque
DC $2.99

Matt T: Blue Beetle is a bit different from the majority of other books on the market at the moment, in that the New Mexico setting and Hispanic title character have plenty more influence on the direction of the story than just a colourful backdrop. This story takes on the close-to-clich├ęd element of illegal immigrants, but adds the fact that they‘re super-powered just to keep the capes-and-spandex ticking over. In all honesty it‘s not a terrible story, and the development of the new Beetle is told in a pleasant coming-of-age style. Having a villain to exploit the character‘s naivety might give the book the jolt it needs, rather than the all-powerful armour saving the day each time. 6/10


DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #8
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Ivan Rodriguez
Avatar $3.99


Matt C: Child watches parents die and grows up to embark on a crusade to save the world. Sound vaguely familiar? Not if the child grows up to be Doktor Sleepless and his method of saving the world is to destroy it! As we reach the end of Book One, has the title character actually revealed himself to be a villain? Or is it a red herring? There’s so much information being pumped out in this book that it can be difficult to digest in one reading, so I think I’ll probably find myself going through the first eight issues again at some point in the very near future in preparation for the beginning of the second arc. Bar Fell (currently AWOL), this is the strongest work the ultra-prolific Warren Ellis is putting out at the moment. 8/10


NEW WARRIORS #15
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Art: Koi Turnbull & Sal Regla
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: I have no idea what happened, or if the change is permanent, but the artwork in this issue of New Warriors is utter pants. The shadowing is wrong, the proportions terrible and everything looks flat. For a story that represents the crux of so many issues it‘s really a letdown thanks to the pictures, to the point that I‘ll drop the book if I see the name Turnbull on the next issue. 3/10


CATWOMAN #82
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Art: David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez
DC $2.99


Matt C: It’s a damn shame to see this series go, even though low sales suggested cancellation would be on the cards sooner or later. I was never overly fussed by Selina Kyle as anything other than a foil to the Dark Knight before Ed Brubaker took control, and when he left I was anticipating dropping the title until Pfeifer quickly showed he’d be taking the character to interesting and unexpected places. It may not have captured audience it deserved but I’m glad it made it as far as it did, and I’m sure they’ll be many out there who feel the same. 7/10


NEW AVENGERS #44
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Billy Tan & Matt Banning
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: The willingness of the Skrulls to torture Reed Richards and their arrogant attitude toward the human spirit (often our saving grace in these situations!) is explored fully in this Illuminati-heavy issue, in which clones-upon-clones of Mr Fantastic are destroyed to give up an vital secret. I'm hoping all the back-story spells good things for the conclusion of the Secret Invasion, since all of this information about the how's, why's and where's needs to have some significance rather than simply annoying filler. 7/10

Matt C: If you get past the idea that the Skrull’s can create clones of various superfolk who are identical to the originals right down to their mannerisms and intelligence, then this isn’t too bad an issue, even though it does seem to belabour on something that could probably be dealt with in a couple of pages. There is one scene featuring “Reed Richards” being tortured that is disturbing as it is effective, but it’s not enough to make me change my decision to stop buying both this and Mighty Avengers (also flawed but readable this week). But I seem to remember saying something similar before….. I’m beginning to sound like one of those smokers who are always telling everyone they’re going to quit, but never do! 6/10


THUNDERBOLTS #123
Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Fernando Blanco & Frank Martin
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: With any luck Thunderbolts won’t become yet another ‘our team vs. Skrulls‘ book for long, as it‘s far too interesting for that. The likes of Norman Osbourn and Moonstone are almost despicable enough that you want to see them get their comeuppance, but are usually so well writen you let them get away with it. This makes them far too complex to be dumped into the happenings of the rest of Marvel U, so here‘s hoping that the change is a temporary one for the next few issues. 7/10


BLACK PANTHER #40
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jeft Palo
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Guest writer Jason Aaron delivers another dramatic and thrilling issue of this book, backed by some deceptively simple but quite stunning art from Jeft Palo. It kind of makes me think Aaron should become permanent writer of Black Panther, it’s that good, but then I said a similar thing when he did his arc on Wolverine – at the rate he’s going, if he carries on doing these exceptional hit ’n’ run scripting gigs, I’ll be recommending he become permanent writer on every book Marvel is currently publishing!! 8/10


HERCULES #5
Writer: Steve Moore
Art: Admira Wijaya
Radical Comics $2.99


Matt C: This solid swords ‘n' sandals tale, bolstered by some striking painted artwork from Admira Wijaya, reaches it blood-drenched conclusion. I’ve mentioned Conan and HBO’s Rome in previous reviews, but this final issue made be think of Frank Miller’s 300: there not a lot of substance to it but the constant carnage on display does provide plenty of visceral thrills. The door’s left open for a sequel and I wouldn’t rule out taking a look if one were to appear. 7/10


MIGHTY AVENGERS #17
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Khoi Pham & Danny Miki
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Blimey, Bendis has managed to squeeze yet another story out of the fact that Pym is a Skrull. Well done. Can I expect another ten issues of this? Because if there is, I‘m giving up now. Thanks. 2/10

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