23 Nov 2008

Mini Reviews 23/11/2008

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.


PAX ROMANA #4
Writer & Art: Jonathan Hickman
Image $3.50

Matt C: Been a long time coming but for the most part it was worth the wait. Hickman’s brilliant concept plays out in a necessarily predictable manner as supposed altruistic intentions give way to selfish motivations, and the masterplan of the time travellers falls by the wayside. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the pace quickens too much to reach the story’s conclusion, meaning we only get glimpses of events that look dramatically promising. That aside, this has been a fiercely intelligent, stunningly illustrated series that would no doubt provide a knockout blow to the senses if consumed in one sitting. If you missed out on the single issues the trade will be an essential purchase. 8/10


DEADPOOL #4
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Carlo Barberi & Paco Medina
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Each month you know what you're going to get from Deadpool. Comedy, insanity and a mentalist in a red jump suit blowing everyone’s head off. Daniel Way clearly has a decent handle on the character, but I'm getting a little worried about the book becoming too formulaic over time. It seems that each arc follows the pattern of Deadpool hired to do a job, nothing is as it seems, then most people die while the wise is cracked, which is fine for the odd pickup but not for a long term reader. Still a good giggle, but a little more inventiveness to the chaos would make me happier. 8/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #578
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Marcos Martin
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Neat. That’s not a word I use in everyday conversation but it seems quite apt describing this issue. It was neat. Fun, fast-paced and witty with Mark Waid once again showing he’s one of the masters of contemporary superhero storytelling. Marcos Martin takes it to the next level though, his vibrant art just an all-round joy to behold (nice homage to a classic Ditko image on the cover, too). Not quite up to the same standard of the previous Kelly/Bachalo issues, but good stuff all the same. 7/10


X-FACTOR #37
Writer: Peter David
Art: Valentine De landro
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Dear Marvel, please ensure the current creative team stays on X-Factor, and you stop messing around with artists et al, or I'll get so annoyed I may wipe my bottom with the issues prior to this one and mail them to you. After a curry. Cheers, Matt. P.S. In case you didn't get my not-so-subtle insinuation, I liked this month's issue and want you to keep the level of continuity or risk some pooey wrath. 8/10


EX-MACHINA #39
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Tony Harris & Jim Clark
DC/Wildstorm $2.99


Matt C: This series has been treading water over the last arc. It just seemed superfluous to the overall plot and felt like padding, as though Vaughan has a final issue number in mind a la Y: The Last Man and will string things along a bit just to reach that stage. I wish I could be more positive because generally this series has been pretty special, but recently it’s like it’s lost its way. No chance of me dropping it though – I decided a long while ago I was seeing this through to the end – but it really needs to shift up a gear in the next few issues. 6/10


ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL #14
Writer: Joss Whedon & Bryan Lynch
Art: Stephen Mooney
IDW $3.99


Matt T: If Joss Whedon's plan was to translate the unfilmed final series of Angel, he's succeeded. In making an entertaining comic book, I'm not so sure. The pacing of After The Fall is too slow for a decent story to ever gather any tension, and the occasional dramatic turns don't really grasp the feel of the TV show. Perhaps this is because so much of the status quo has changed, or due to the artwork which, although improving, is still below par. 6/10


PUNISHER #64
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Art: Laurence Campbell
Marvel $2.99


Matt C: Still great, but not quite up to the searing brilliance of the last couple of issues probably because the focus shifts from the black depths of Frank Castle’s mind and onto the gang of criminals responsible for the deaths of multiple kidnapped girls. Hurwitz has me signed up for the duration and I’ve got my fingers crossed that he remains partnered up with Campbell, an artist who displays the ability to push the intensity up a notch. 8/10


DYNAMO 5 #18
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Mahmud A Asrar
Image $3.50


Matt T: The way things have been building up in Dynamo 5 it's been clear that everything is going to go tits up pretty soon. The new team made up of mysterious vigilantes, a mother and daughter team, and a nutter who can create earthquakes, isn't exactly well balanced, and someone finally put together the right kind of combination to royally hand their asses to them. What I wasn't expecting was the big final page reveal, and what is could mean for the rest of the series. Granted, the original team will be back up and running in an issue or two but there's a fair few bombshells to address in this fun, entertaining book before that happens. 9/10


UNCANNY X-MEN #504
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
Marvel $3.99


Matt C: Yeah, I know I said I was done with this, but here I am again (possibly swayed by the tremendously eye-catching Dodson cover) and truth be told I’m quite pleased I came back for more. Fraction throws in a lot of cool stuff into this issue, from a titillating look into Cyclops’ mindscape to the promising introduction of Dr. Nemesis to the team. Makes me think Fraction will thrive on this book in a solo capacity rather than co-writing with Brubaker (is he even returning to the title?) so I may find that once again Uncanny remains on my pull-list. 7/10


HALLOWEEN: THE FIRST DEATH OF LAURIE STRODE #2
Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Jeff Zornow
Devil’s Due Publishing $3.50

Matt T: Without the gore of a standard horror comic, the likes of Halloween relies on tension. As Stefan Hutchinson, who's written a fair few books of this ilk, knows his craft, this comic hits the right notes in keeping the feel of the original film. I don't really see the value of it though, even if it's well written and drawn, as it adds little in filling in gaps that aren't really nagging questions, and is more of another way of getting further stories out of a popular franchise. I'm hoping the team move onto something more original as there are more interesting tales to tell outside of the world of Michael Myers and co. 7/10


JSA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: MAGOG #1
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Art: Fernando Pasarin & Mick Gray
DC $2.99


Matt C: If you skipped reading the credits and just got straight into the story you’d be forgiven for thinking the regular JSA creative team was responsible for this one-shot. Tomasi and co. seem to tap straight into the same vein of storytelling that Geoff Johns has been mining on the main title. Even the art isn’t too dissimilar to Dale Eaglesham’s. Basically, if you’re picking up JSA at the moment this is a pretty essential addition to the ongoing Thy Kingdom Come plot. For anyone else, if you’re looking for a jumping on point, look elsewhere! 7/10


THUNDERBOLTS #126
Writer: Andy Diggle
Art: Roberto De La Torre
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: Damn. Andy Diggle wasn't one of the first names I thought of to pull off the tricky balancing act that is Thunderbolts, but he's started with a bang. Instead of trying to make Ellis' team his own, it looks like the team itself is going to completely melt down instead. This could lead to a massive roster change, or just the same old T'bolts madness, but it's an impressive debut nonetheless. 9/10


SCALPED #23
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: R.M. Guéra

DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt C: The spotlight continues to shine on Dino Poor Bear this issue and during his “voiceover” he comes out with the following: “We live and we die, and anything that happens to us in between is just pure fucking luck.” It may just be the thoughts of one particular individual but you can imagine the majority of the characters in the series agreeing with the sentiment. Aaron brings a brutal honesty to Scalped that will make even the most hard-hearted flinch, and Guéra adds layers of doomed, desolate reality. Bleak but brilliant. 9/10

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt, nice write up on Pax Romana, right on, couldn't agree more. Have you heard anything about Hickman doing more stories set in the Pax Romana "universe?" This is the only thing I can think of that might explain the rushed ending, perhaps some elements will get explored in future mini-series(?)

Justin
13 Minutes

Matt C said...

Can't remember where I saw it now, but I'm pretty sure I read an interview or something similar saying the intention was to revist the "universe" in further miniseries. I hope he doesn't leave it all behind now that Marvel have got their hands on him.