28 Sep 2008

Mini Reviews 28/9/2008

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.


SOLOMON KANE #1
Writer: Scott Allie
Art: Mario Guevara
Dark Horse Comics $2.99


Matt C: Not quite as strong off the bat as the debut issue of Dark Horse’s Conan but it still has plenty to offer for both Robert E. Howard aficionados and folks coming to the character for the first time. The art effectively brings the era to life with added atmospherics from Dave Stewart’s muted colour scheme, but while the dour Kane may not be as instantly likable as the Cimmerian, his Allie-scripted adventures promise great things. 7/10


DEADPOOL #2
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: You kind of know what you're going to get with a Deadpool book, and on that front this issue really delivers. It's stupid, flash-bang fun with a relatively obvious twist, but is written with enough craft to make it a little less clich├ęd. The humour is black and gory as ever, and the art reflects the madness of the central character in a satisfying manner. A pleasant distraction from the usual doom and gloom of Secret Invasion. 8/10


MARVEL 1985 #5
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Tommy Lee Edwards
Marvel $3.99


Matt C: I had anticipated the plot of this book coming apart at the seams by this point; Millar’s great at high concepts but often falls flat with the execution, and I just assumed this would happen here. I’m pleasantly surprised then to see the mini sustaining its momentum without buckling as it continues to throw in some surprising twists. Obviously there’s still one more issue to go, and it may not reach the finish line unscathed, but as it stands now this has been a delightful little series that is far more than merely an exercise in nostalgia. 8/10


BLUE BEETLE #31
Writer: Matthew Sturges
Art: Andre Coelho
DC $2.99


Matt T: Blue Beetle is always a bit of entertaining fluff, and this issue is at least a little more engaging. As the teenage hero struggles as only teenage heroes can, the lingering plotlines start to come together and a major-ish villain is revealed. The book certainly isn't terrible, but it rarely steps things up beyond the level of average. 6/10


CAPTAIN AMERICA #42
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting, Luke Ross, Rick Magyar & Fabio Laguria
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Well, the long story arc that started in #1 has finally come to some kind of conclusion, which will be a relief to some. It's gratifying to see Bucky properly step up to the mantle of Cap, and become far more than just a man in a costume. I'm intrigued to see what the next few issues will bring, especially with the Skull's new get-up being a bit restrictive! A cracking issue all round, with plenty to make me feel confident for the future. 9/10

Matt C: Brubaker’s epic storyline finally reaches its explosive, action-packed conclusion and all you can do is sit back and marvel at what he and Epting – along with various others – have achieved over the last 42 issues. The aftermath will continue to reverberate over the next few months, and Bru no doubt has plenty of further tricks up his sleeve, but I’ve said it before and there’s no harm in saying it again – this run will one day stand alongside the greatest stories in comics history. 8/10


ULTIMATES 3 #5
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Joe Madureira
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Be prepared, this sentence won't make sense. At all. But I'm coming round to the fact Ulimates out Avengers the Avengers. There, I said it. The pacing of this book is frighteningly similar to how it was in the last two runs, with plenty of twists and turns before a blockbuster finish. To that end it's relatively enjoyable, non-taxing stuff, and Hawkeye has grown on me as a character. The main foe was something of a stretch, but at least one of my favourite villains shows up to insure the next arc will be entertaining. 7/10


BACK TO BROOKLYN #1
Writers: Garth Ennis & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Mihailo Vukelic
Image $2.99


Matt C: The milieu is instantly familiar to crime fans – Italian gangsters in Noo Yawk – and while you might be able to spot hints that this could go down the route of hackneyed, formulaic and predictable, I’m gunning for Ennis and Palmiotti to pull something special out of the hat. Not entirely convinced by Vukelic’s art, but with crime comics having something of a renaissance recently, I’m not averse to adding another hardboiled mini to my pull-list, hoping it’ll deliver the goods. 7/10


AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #17
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Harvey Tolibao & Jay David Ramos
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Let's be honest, the new Ant-Man should be in every comic Marvel currently produces. Not only is he a reprehensible asshole, but he gets all the best lines! Who else would get immediately distracted by Spider-Woman's chest to the point that they almost get their team-mates killed? He's one of the many positives in this book, and although the 3-D Man backup isn't quite as good there's enough to make it one of the better crossover titles I'm reading at the moment. 8/10


BLACK PANTHER #41
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jefte Palo
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: For me, the absolute highlight of the entire Secret Invasion event has been this three-issue arc from Aaron & Palo. If you’ve missed out on this so far I urge you to pay a visit to your Local Comic Shop and see if they still have the previous two issues in stock: when you first heard the pitch of Secret Invasion I guarantee this arc in Black Panther will be much closer to what you saw in your mind than the hamfisted main miniseries. Epic, with a sense of urgency and palpable threat, topped of with some gorgeously evocative art from Palo, this is Aaron inching closer to the position of My Current Favourite Writer In Comics. 9/10


NEW WARRIORS #16
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Art: Reilly Brown & Juan Vlasco
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: After a few issues of madness and unpredictable quality, New Warriors is back on track to some extent. The plot twist makes a certain amount of sense within the story, and the conclusion makes me a touch more inspired to pick up the next issue. 7/10


POWERS #30
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Avon Oeming
Marvel/Icon $3.95


Matt C: I said this would probably be my last issue of Powers, and as it finally resolves (for now, at least) the Deena-Pilgrim-powers-virus storyline, it seems like the perfect opportunity to jump off. It’s actually the best instalment for a while and I momentarily wondered whether I was making the wrong decision, but thinking back I remembered how I’ve become less and less interested in the world that Bendis & Oeming created as it’s steadily drifted away from what, for me, made it special. I may investigate the trades somewhere down the line but, even though at one point this was my favourite monthly book, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Detectives Walker and Pilgrim. 7/10

Matt T: I'm not really sure what to make of Powers at the moment. I thought the last issue was a little too neat of a package and, although this one deals cleverly with the aftermath, it's still a little out of character for what was one of the most groundbreaking books of the last few years. I'm all for disrupting the status quo, but this feels more like a last issue than a new beginning. I'm hoping Bendis will breathe new life into Powers, but I'm getting the sneaking suspicion this is the last we'll see of it for a while. 6/10


THUNDERBOLTS #124
Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Fernando Blanco
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Not quite as clever as the Ellis run, but the majority of the characters are keeping in line with prior developments and there's been no real significant divergences, other than Norman Osborn going from card-carrying nutter into vaguely megalomaniacal media whore. The Skrulls aren't much more than another foe to defeat, so hopefully once things alien-shape-shifter-wise have settled down the storylines will improve somewhat. 7/10


UBU BUBU #3
Writer & Art: Jamie Smart
Slave Labor Graphics $3.50


Matt C: The first story is a total gutbuster as Ubu Bubu shits out a “daemon of perversion” who then goes on to terrorize the inhabitants of a local bar with their most depraved sexual fantasies. The subsequent tales can’t quite match its lunatic brilliance but there’s still plenty of madcap mayhem to keep the reader entertained. 8/10


NEW AVENGERS #45
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Jim Cheung & John Dell
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Ever wondered what happened to the Skrull agents during House of M? No? Neither did I. But God bless Marvel, they decided to squander an entire issue of New Avengers showing us anyway. Wasting a perfectly good artist such as Jim Cheung on such tat is criminal, and offers nothing substantial to either event. 2/10

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