26 Oct 2008

Mini Reviews 26/10/2008

While we may not always get the time to review all the comics we get every week, we do try and provide a snapshot of the latest releases, mixing the good with the not so good.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Lenil Francis Yu & Mark Morales
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Utter shite. This is the issue where, in a perfect world, Marvel would finally wake up and realise they’d given Bendis way too much control of their Universe. I may have been down on Civil War, but at least it had some meat to it; Secret Invasion has just rolled out a succession of fight scenes, each larger and more pointless than the last. One issue to go and a real, quantifiable reason why the Skrulls are invading Earth has yet to become apparent. What’s their endgame, what will domination of the planet achieve? Yu’s art has never floated my boat but I can’t deny the effort he’s put into some of these pages. Bendis, on the hand, used to be my favourite writer at one point, which makes me wonder if maybe a Skrull has replaced him – might explain the witless drivel that passes for a script here. The fact that this’ll be the top-selling book of the month, and will get way more attention and publicity than something like Criminal, makes me feel ashamed to be comic fan. 1/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Stephen Segovia
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Normally I’d stay well clear from a miniseries like this because, honestly, how many Wolverine books can one man need? It’s Jason Aaron’s name that reeled me in though, partly because his recent arc in the main Wolverine series was all types of awesome, but mostly because he’s pretty much turning everything he touches into gold. I was a bit disappointed to find this issue to be a bit run-of-the-mill: nothing we haven’t seen before, nothing to suggest this is a tale that needs to be told. Art’s not my bag either really, reminded me a hell of a lot of Lenil Francis Yu’s work. But, as much as I wasn’t really impressed, I’ve got a feeling I’ll be laying down the cash for the rest of the series based on the writer’s current pedigree. Everyone’s allowed a misstep every once in a while, but I’m hoping this won’t be one of Aaron’s. 5/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Art Adams, Walden Wong & Frank Cho
Marvel $2.99

Andy H: I admit it. Despite some misgivings Hulk is one of my guilty pleasures. This issue is a little different splitting into two stories. First we have regular writer Jeph Loeb joined by the 'Incredible' Art Adams. Red Hulk is being tracked by Bruce Banner at the same time as a group of Wendigos, who are hunting 'Rulk' after he killed one of their own. Their paths cross in Las Vegas where to save bystanders Banner transforms into a Hulk we haven't seen for a while. Come on, it's Vegas, you work it out! Next Loeb is joined by Frank Cho as She-Hulk teams with Thundra and Valkyrie to hunt the Red Hulk for a little payback! If you are going to get one man to draw these Amazons, Cho is definitely that man! Both stories have more humour running through them than usual, in fact they read more like a Peter David book rather than a Loeb one. Whatever, it all makes for good clean fun. 7/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Luke Ross & Fabio Laguana
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: After being captivated by the now concluded Red Skull storyline for such a long time it’s kind of disconcerting to find yourself reading a the start of brand new arc in Captain America. This is where Bucky really gets to step out of Steve Rogers shadow for the first time and since Brubaker effectively “created” the character, you know he’s in the right hands. The proper debut of Luke Ross’s pencils flows quite seamlessly from the invigorating kinetics we’re been used to from Steve Epting, helped in no small part by Frank D’Armata’s wonderfully muted colour scheme. 8/10

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino
DC $3.99

Andy H: Best issue so far mainly due to the fact it just keeps moving at such a pace with absolutely no let up. I'm still a little confused by the continuity as I see no - or very little - reference to this Crisis in any of the regular titles, and while reading this mini I often feel I've missed something, but that could be just me. At the end of the day the Anti-Life equation is frankly scaring the pants off me, and that is brilliant! Heroes fall and new heroes are discovered. Despair outweighs hope. It's all very bleak and I can't wait for the next issue. 7/10

Matt C: Maybe my brain short-circuited before reading this issue because I’ll be goddamned if I could figure out what the hell is going on here! While Secret Invasion continues to simplify to the point of idiocy, Final Crisis seems to be complicating things to the point of incomprehensibility. Is it because I’m not reading any of the other minis that I feel completely lost reading the main series? Could be, but then I shouldn’t have to pick up every damn issue with the words “Final” and “Crisis” on the cover just to make sense of what passes for plotting. There’s no clear thread to latch onto in this book, at least no clear thread that I can see. The art’s pretty, no questions there, but this is a complete headscratcher all told. 5/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Brubaker has found his groove again with this book; the high standard recaptured when Greg Rucka joined him for an arc is still fully in evidence. Lady Bullseye is far from a cheap knock-off, and though The Hand have been overused somewhat in recent years, they make thoroughly effective adversaries here. The moody realism of Lark and Gaudiano’s art tops off an excellent package which is beginning to move its way back into my favourites. 8/10

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Alberto Ponticelli
DC/Vertigo £$2.99

Matt C: Slightly preachy in places, but necessarily so I think, this an intelligent read punctuated by some shocking violence. I’m not too familiar with the Unknown Soldier as a character – I remember reading a Garth Ennis mini several years ago, but anything beyond that is going to require that I take a look at Wikipedia. Don’t think it matters either way as this debut issue is strong enough to stand on it’s own and I’ll definitely be taking a look at the next instalment. 7/10

Writer: Peter David
Art: Vincenzo Cucca
Marvel $2.99

Andy H: I haven't had this much fun since David's runs on Young Justice and Captain Marvel. Quality storytelling liberally sprinkled with his trademark humour. She-Hulk and the Lady Liberators (Sue Storm, Thundra and Valkyrie) are off to help a country devastated by earthquakes. Unfortunately the repressive government of that country doesn't want help and that's when it all goes pear-shaped. The art is growing on me, it's quite cartoony in places but always gets the character's expressions bang on. All this and another mean and moody cover from Mike Deodato. More please, Mr. David. 8/10

Writers: Geoff Johns, James Robinson & Sterling Gates
Art: Pete Woods, Gary Frank, Renato Guedes, John Sibal & Wilson Magalhaes
DC $3.99

Matt C: The big event that’ll be running through DC’s Super books over the next few months kicks off here, and while it's more of a stage-setter rather than an excellent read, there are enough hooks to get me fairly excited and prepared to sign-up for the whole thing. As a huge fan of the recent Braniac arc in Action by Johns & Frank the first few pages by those creators ticked most of the right boxes for me with the rest of the book not really matching up. It’s a neat idea though, and it’s bound to go tits up, so while I’m becoming less and less interested with what’s happening elsewhere in the DC Universe I’m really gunning for the New Krypton storyline to deliver the goods. 6/10

Writer: Alan Davis
Art: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The story’s very slight, kind of throwaway, and seems very old-fashioned and out of step with the other Thor books Marvel are currently putting out. It’s not bad, but it’s not something you’d ever rush to revisit. The art on the other hand is beautiful, but you really wouldn’t’ expect anything less from Alan Davis, even though he seems to be ghettoising himself these days by just doing, for all intents and purposes, “Alan Davis books”, rather than branching out further into the mainstream where his work would be appreciated by a wider audience. 6/10

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

Matt C: Three great Brubaker books released on the same day means that’s a pretty good week for comics! I’ll be running out of superlatives to heap on Criminal pretty soon because both Bru and Phillips seem incapable of putting a foot wrong here. There’s nothing particularly original being done in this title, but the stories are told with such confidence and such a keen understanding of how the genre works that it's nigh on impossible to find anything to criticise. Broken record time, but if you’re not already picking up Criminal, you know the score, do yourself a favour etc etc. 9/10

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

Matt C: Another book where it’s becoming increasingly difficult finding new ways to praise its genius. Scalped kind of snuck up on me: I was enjoying it, thought it was very good, and then all of a sudden it became obvious that it’s an absolutely stunning piece of work. I guess I subconsciously knew that all along, and I don’t know when the exact moment was when I realised how fucking amazing it is, but from now on there’s no question about it. It’s a fact. Nuff said!! 9/10

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Barry Kitson & Mark Farmer
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: One of those times where the “real world” finds its way into superhero comics, and as is usually the case it sits rather uncomfortably inside the four-colour fantasy universe. It’s well written, and I certainly can’t knock the motivations behind it, but I’m not really sure it works, it seems to change Flash Thompson’s character to fit the story rather than the other way round, and while the way it leaves things is most definitely shocking, long term I can’t see where they go from here. Worthy, but misjudged. 6/10

Writer: Christopher Yost
Art: Diogenes Neves & Ed Tadeo
Marvel $3.99

Andy H: Christopher Yost is fast becoming one of my favourite X-writers and the real reason I picked this issue up. He seems to get a real grip on the characters and this time we see Storm questioning her place in the world: X-Man or Queen? While considering this as she searches the Morlock tunnels with Cyclops, she is called away to Wakanda where there has been a murder. A chain of events leads to her husband, the Black Panther, turning against her. This is just the beginning as Ororo faces a very dangerous foe from her past. The art is great from Neves and Tadeo (previously unknown to me) and it's all wrapped up in a J Scott Campbell cover. 7/10

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