16 Nov 2008

Mini Reviews 16/11/2008

While we may not always have 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 & Art: Alex Ross
DC $3.99

Matt C: Spinning out of the entertaining but slightly plodding Thy Kingdom Come story arc in Justice Society Of America comes this, the first of three specials concentrating on several of the pivotal characters involved in main plot. This particular issue is notable not only for being written an illustrated by Alex Ross but also because Ross eschews his more familiar painted style for a more conventional pencils n’ inks approach. The art impresses - fans of Ross should definitely pick this up - but anyone with even a passing interest in the original Kingdom Come and its current “sequel” should also consider giving this a look as Ross also delivers a engrossing, affecting story. The Earth-22 Superman becomes increasingly obsessed with preventing events he’s already witnessed ocuuring on his new homeworld, while his JSA teammates begin to wonder if he’s becoming a loose canon. Excellent stuff. 8/10

Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Things steadily go from bad to worse, but then you don’t have to be a historian to know that was coming. This book is something of a minor revalation: considering how misjudged it had the potential to be, the fact that it tells its story without relying on melodrama and avoids oversimplifying the horrors of the Holocaust ensures it’s light years away from anything normally associated with the X-Men. The final few wordless pages are where Di Giandomenico produces some of the most powerful imagery I’ve seen in any comic book this year. Outstanding, and the unquestionable highlight of Pak’s comics career so far. 9/10

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Pat Olliffe & Jerry Ordway
DC $2.99

Matt T: Since the departure of the previous team I’ve been treating each issue of Booster like a stay of execution, waiting to drop the book at the first sign of it not being the fun, often clever time travel romp it once was. This issue seemed to keep the same energy and sense of humour, and lead onto something larger with the arrival of the Chronos twins. A few sections were played a bit too much for laughs, but other than that a top read. 8/10

Writer: Mark Wheaton
Art: Joshua Hale Fialkov & Rashdan Ekedal
Dark Horse $2.99

Matt T: Who would of thought the life of a cleaner would have been so interesting? When there aren’t bodies to tidy up there’s a potentially supernatural mystery to unravel, all the while making sure the mops are clean and there’re plenty of sponges. This is a superbly researched book with some clever touches, such as annotated splash pages with information about the crime scene or techniques being used to get rid of the gore. It’s drawn in a very clinical manner as well, with the colours kept less vibrant to reflect the content. I’m a touch worried about which direction the story is going in, but as long as there isn’t a ridiculous leap in logic I’ll be in for all four issues. 8/10

Writer: Kevin Smith
Art: Walter Flanagan & Sandra Hope
DC $3.99

Matt T: I’m not a regular reader of Batman comics, in spite of being a big fan of the character, mostly because I’ve found it takes a special type of writer to get a good handle on the Dark Knight. Being a fan of Kevin Smith’s films and comics, especially his sterling work on Daredevil I thought I’d take a look at this - it was a slightly different prospect, and carried the hallmarks of Smith’s often overly verbose dialogue with panels filled with chatter. This isn’t to say that I’m complaining though, as for the most part the characters were well drawn enough to warrant it. The Joker didn’t quite ring true for me, erring too far towards the jovial instead of menacing. I know the guy is deeply nuts, but asking an assassin to bum him in the woods? And poo flinging!? Perhaps The Dark Knight has my expectations of the character too far in one direction, but I was disappointed. 6/10

Matt C: For many, including myself, Kevin Smith’s reign as cultural force to be reckoned with has long since passed, and for that reason I'd anticipated the worst from this book. That DC felt the need to make a big song-and-dance about having copies of the first two scripts for the series in hand just shows how he’s now perceived in the comics industry: basically, a sellable name but completely unreliable. As it turns out this wasn’t too bad, but then it wasn’t great either. Portraying the Joker as a sexual deviant is on the wrong side of ridiculous and Smith’s penchant for being unnecessarily verbose slows things down and becomes tiresome. The art is serviceable if occasionally a bit wonky, but overall there’s a smugness to the writing that’s off-putting and not really deserved. If you skip this rest assured you ain’t missing much. 5/10

Writer: Johanna Stokes
Art: Greg Scott & Todd Herma
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt C: A kind of “buddy movie” approach: think Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid but with a pirate and a knife-wielding cowboy as the main characters. Doesn’t quite live up to that description though, and the decision to change artist after only eight pages was bizarre to say the least. In fact, I was quite enjoying it up to the point where Herma took over from Scott; their styles are so different that it completely threw me out of the story and I couldn’t find my way back in afterwards. Reasonably entertaining but I’m undecided on whether I’ll give the next instalment a shot. 6/10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Pete Woods
DC $2.99

Matt C: It shows how much magic Gary Frank was bringing to this book because without his punchy illustrations John’s continuation of the New Krypton storyline seems rather tepid. There are some notable moments in this issue, but General Lane’s resurrection seems a bit pointless (no living character could’ve taken his place?) and the Kryptonian’s response to the appearance of Doomsday perhaps goes a bit too far in making its point. I figured on following New Krypton all the way through, but last week’s Guardian one-shot held no interest and if Action can’t kick things into gear I doubt I’ll adding Supergirl to my pull-list for the interim. 5/10

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Steve McNiven & Dexter Vines
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: This riff on Unforgiven/Mad Max with Wolverine as the central character continues to produce plenty of visceral thrills on top of some enjoyable ‘What Ifs’ for various familiar faces. This is probably the best art I’ve seen from McNiven, much more fluid and cinematic than his work in Civil War. Millar’s obviously having a ball imagining this possible future for the Marvel Universe, and that enthusiasm rubs off on the reader. Post-apocalyptic B-movie fun that delivers the goods. 7/10

Writer: Phil Hester
Art: Jorge Lucas
Top Cow $2.99

Matt T: For the first time since The Darkness restarted it doesn’t feel quite as fresh or interesting. Instead this is more like an issue of Ghost Rider, with the central character drifting into a town with secrets, only to discover he’s holding onto the biggest secret of all. Without his powers Jackie is still an intriguing personality to base a story around, but Hester needs to get back on track next issue as this was a real gut punch of an about face. 6/10

Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Zid, Garrie Gastonny & Brandon Chng
Radical Comics $2.99

Matt T: I’m still not a hundred percent convinced that this book isn’t more than a mish-mash of other people’s ideas, but at least there are a few other touches from Niles to give it more of a horror spin. The story is a little all over the place as a result, with certain elements not quite sitting right for me. I’ll see the mini series out, but I’m hoping the balance between sci-fi and horror is found before the end. 7/10

Matt C: The tale takes a unexpected turn this issue, or at least it wasn’t something I was expecting based on the events of the last month’s debut. I’m not sure yet if I’m onboard with where it’s heading now but there's still plenty of great work from the creators involved, enough to ensure I’ll stick around even if it doesn’t quite match up to what I was anticipating. 7/10

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