21 Sep 2008

Mini Reviews 21/9/2008

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.


UNCANNY X-MEN #502
Writers: Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker
Art: Greg Land & Jay Leisten
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: I‘m not hating Fraction and Brubaker’s current run on Uncanny X-Men, but it all seems a bit familiar. I know it‘s a bit old hat to compare present stories to early X-Men classics featring the first few appearances of Kitty Pryde, but that‘s exactly what this feels like. It‘s an introduction to the world of X-Men, but it’s painting in strokes that are a little too broad for my tastes. The ’big bad’ has potential, but other than that I’m a little disappointed that two superb writers are producing something so average. 6/10

Matt C: Much as I love both the writer’s on the book, I’m not really feeling Uncanny X-Men anymore. It has been my most consistent purchase over many years, and I’ve weathered the bad times along with the good, but when you’re watching carefully where your pennies are going you wonder if the money would be better spent elsewhere. On the artistic front, there are occasional flashes of brilliance from Land, but there’s also Logan’s deformed biceps as seen on the cover and the first double-page splash, and Emma Frost looks a little too much like Pamela Anderson for my liking. I guess I’ll see the arc through to the conclusion, but it might be time to say adios after it’s done. 6/10


WAR HEROES #2
Writer: Mark Miller
Art: Tony Harris & Cliff Rathburn
Image $2.99


Matt C: Now there’s something you don’t see in a comic everyday: some chap’s meat and two veg!! What’s more – and maybe I’m just feeling inadequate –the way Harris renders the package, it’s as big as the guy’s head! Talk about well hung! Anyway, bar that unexpected surprise this isn’t too bad, but I can't help but wonder if it’s just going to be Millar in full on shock-mode without any solid characterization for backup. I’ll stick around though, since the premise is intriguing enough to warrant some attention. 6/10


PUNISHER #62
Writer: Greg Hurwitz
Art: Laurence Campbell
Marvel MAX $2.99


Matt C: I’m glad I made the decision to persist with this book as I’m thoroughly impressed by what Hurwitz has turned in so far. It’s dark, dark stuff but you find yourself unable to pull away no matter how grim the content way be. Campbell matches the script’s bleak tone with some equally sombre artwork. The last issue was no fluke, this is the real deal. 8/10


SQUADRON SUPREME 2 #3
Writer: Howard Chaykin
Art: Marco Turini
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: A bit of a nothing issue, with lots of confusing and pointless chatter culminating in Fury flexing his political muscles, and the FF proxy running from the law. There‘s more going on under the surface and plenty of potential for the future, but the pace needs to pick up a bit to keep me interested. 6/10


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #5
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: This series has really hit its stride now and the current issue rattles along at such a brisk pace it barely pauses to catch a breath. I’d love to see this up in the Top 10 of the sales charts because it puts most other team books to shame. It really does deserve a wider audience and I will continue in my quest to get this title – and Nova too – onto as many pull-lists as possible. In fact, you know that book you were considering dropping soon? Drop it now and pick up Guardians Of The Galaxy instead, and then trying telling me that it wasn’t a better way of spending your money! 8/10


SCALPED #21
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: R.M. Guera
DC/Vertigo $2.99


Matt C: The focus shifts away from Dashiell Bad Horse and falls on Red Crow in the latest instalment of this exceptional series. It may not have the widespread appeal of something like Preacher or Y: The Last Man – it can be unremittingly bleak after all – but it is an absolute masterclass in characterization and once it gets it hooks into you, you realise Scalped is one of the best comics being published right now. 9/10


ACTION COMICS #869
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
DC $2.99


Matt C: This continues to be a cracking read, and pretty much all of my praise from the preceding few issues can be applied to this one too. But let’s not focus on that right now (the score below should suffice this time), let’s take a look at the cover: excellent work from Frank as always, but what are Clark & Jonathan Kent holding there…… soda pop?!? Fuck you DC!! Will it corrupt the youth of the nation to see Superman nursing a bottle of beer? Do the youth of the nation even read comics anymore?! It’s kind of pathetic in this day and age that the DC bigwigs feel it necessary to stick their oar in and alter a great picture of a father and his son enjoying an alcoholic beverage. Reminds me of that Incredible Hulk issue way back when featuring Rick Jones’ stag party, when Marvel decided to pull a similar stunt and have Rick and his buddies enjoying cans of cola on the cover (as if!!). Waitaminute…. didn’t Gary Frank draw that cover too?!! 8/10


MOON KNIGHT #22
Writer: Mike Benson
Art: Mark Texeira & Dan Brown
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Moon Knight is doing what he does best, operating under the radar and generally kicking ass. I‘m hopeful that the Thunderbolts won‘t be overused, as they seem to be appearing in everything these days, and also that Moon Knight continues being the hardcore conflicted character he has been up till now. Good Stuff. 8/10


AGE OF THE SENTRY #1
Writers: Jeff Parker & Paul Tobin
Art: Nick Dragotta, Gary Martin & Romon Rosanas
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Two pastiche tales, the first inspired by Silver Age Superman the second taking its cues more from Marvel books of the 60s; both are kind of fun but also kind of forgettable. The real question is, who’s the audience for this book? Although there are plenty of humorous asides, neither story could be classified as anything approaching a spoof - they’re both too reverent to the style and tone of the Silver Age for that. I can’t see kids really going for this either, not when they’ve got the Marvel Adventures imprint, with recognisable characters, on the shelves too. So, nice and all, but difficult to ascertain a reason for its existence. 6/10


MIGHTY AVENGERS #18
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Stefano Caselli & Daniele Rudoni
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Blimey, Fury is a hardass. A mean, mean son of a bitch, that’s for sure. Then again, he’s been the only thing keeping me reading the Avengers books, and his squad of newbies is full of decent characters. If there’s one good thing to come out of the Secret Invasion it’s the Howling Commandos, making the rest of the whining and second-guessing so-called teams look stupid. Nice to see Caselli tone things down a bit for the Avengers compared to Initiative, as on that book he got a bit too close to caricature at times. 8/10


INCREDIBLE HERCULES #121
Writer: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art: Clayton Henry
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Now Secret Invasion is a thing of the past (for this title at least), we find Incredible Hercules returning to form and, quite possibly, in heat: this is an issue with sex on the brain! While Herc makes whoopee with Namora, Amadeus gets kidnapped by the Amazons who need him to sire their next generation….. and Amadeus ain’t complaining! A couple of genuine laugh-out-loud moments and the promise of even more fun in next month’s instalment. 8/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #572
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: John Romita Jr & Klaus Janson
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: There‘s a definite feel of classic Spidey about the current run, as ol‘ webhead is facing seemingly insurmountable odds and has to team up with an former enemy in Eddie Brock. Having Norman Osborn back to his old menacing, manipulative self is yet another return to the good old days, but this symbiote face-off is becoming far more interesting than the tired variations of the last few years. JR Jr is back to his best as well, even if Osborn’s hair is shrinking by the issue. 9/10

Matt C: This arc seems to have caught a lot of people off guard, with many who’d previously abandoned ship suddenly getting back on board. The reason’s obvious: this book currently oozes quality and I’m sure many of the naysayers have been forced to eat their words. Those of us who stuck around since Brand New Day began kind of knew a storyline like this was brewing, with a whole bunch of previously independent threads being weaved together in expert fashion. The concluding chapter should be a doozy. 8/10


SECRET INVASION: THOR #2
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Doug Braithwaite
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Not quite the knock-out punch of the debut issue for me, but still a decent read with a nice juxtaposition as Don Blake delivers a child while Beta Ray Bill leads the Asgardians against the Skrull invaders. Braithwaite’s pencil-only art works really, really well with Brian Reber’s colours giving the battle scenes their epic edge. 7/10


X-FACTOR #35
Writer: Peter David
Art: Larry Stroman & Jon Sibal
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: The art in this issue really is shit. The faces, extremities and lack of details make the figures difficult to make out, and in places the laziness is shocking. The story is relatively confusing as a result, and the reappearance of Longshot is either a masterstroke or a redirection due to Secret Invasion taking the last Longshot away as a Skrull. It really needs to pick up, as the excellent cover art alone isn‘t enough to keep me buying it. 3/10


THE ROBERTS #1
Writer: Wayne Chinsang/Justin Shady
Art: Erik Rose
Image $5.99


Matt C: Not sure if it had it’s official release date this week, but it arrived at Paradox on Thursday so it gets included. That’s one reason anyway; the other being it’s an absolutely terrific read that needs to be brought to people’s attention. A tale of a cantankerous old bugger shacked up in a retirement home may not seem like much of a draw, but the fact that he used to be known to the larger world as the Boston Strangler should grab the attention somewhat. Don’t expect much murder and mayhem though: this is a slowburning but absorbing look into the mind of someone whose past glories are long behind him, as he awaits for the inevitable. The last thing he’s anticipating is someone of similar notoriety ending up in same the old folks home as him! 9/10

Matt T: The story of two notorious serial killers hitting old age and ending up at the same retirement home is the premise that drew me in, but the first issue definitely caught me off guard. Instead of being a blackly comic gore fest, this was an interesting character study, showing the writer’s excellent research skills. As there are only two issues I’m guessing there’s going to be more action in the concluding instalment, but at the moment it’s something of a welcome departure from the usual flash-bang spandex action books I read . 8/10

1 comment:

Stewrat said...

What a fantastic opening salvo at X-Factor - now I'm just going to have to pick it up in the shop just to see how shit we're talking here...