9 Nov 2008

Mini Reviews 9/11/2008

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: Arvid Nelson
Artist: Will Conrad José Villarrubia
Dark Horse Comics $2.99

Matt C: Enjoying Conan The Cimmerian? Then buy this. There are similarities between both of Robert E. Howard’s fictional warriors, but there’s plenty to set them apart from each other too. Kull is older, wiser and seems more concerned in keeping the fragile peace in his kingdom than waging war. Which is not to say he won’t jump head first into the fray, rather that he’ll assess all other angles beforehand. That’s my reading of the man anyway - my knowledge of the character as written by Howard is pretty minimal and I’ve only read one Marvel adaptation a while back. Nelson and Conrad, names I’ve been familiar with but hadn’t got round to checking their work, both seem like the right guys for the job. As I said, if you’ve been picking up the Conan books from Dark Horse this is unlikely to disappoint. 8/10

Writer: Tito Faraci
Art: Claudio Villa
Marvel $4.99

Matt T: This story has something of a classic feel about it, from both the writing and artistic style, being reminiscent of a mid-Eighties hero-on-hero fight turning into a team-up. There‘s nothing at all wrong with that every once in a while, and this relatively entertaining one-shot has enough invention about it to be something more than just a pleasant distraction. 7/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: This issue reopens some fairly recent wounds. Just when I thought we’d put the whole One More Day fiasco behind us, hooking Shellhead up with Spidey, as portrayed in this issue, throws up way too many questions. The last time we really saw these two together, one on one, was during Civil War, and since then Mephisto’s waved his magic hands about, which leaves us wondering what Parker and Stark now remember of those testy times and how they now perceive their relationship. Because last time around Tony would’ve hauled Peter’s ass straight into the jail rather than team-up with him but now it seems he’s more worried about being seen with him and being seen not hauling his ass into jail. There’s some nice character work (although the portrayal of Ben Urich seemed a bit off) but anything that stirs up memories of One More Day doesn’t go down too well with me. Now we’ve got it out of the way though, the only way is up. 5/10

Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Jon Sommariva
Image $3.50

Matt C: I’d moan about the delays here if the end product wasn’t so damn fun. Faerber’s script hits all the right notes but the real star of this show for me is Jon Sommariva. There’s a kind of boundless energy to his art that makes it thoroughly infectious and infinitely exciting – even 'talking head' shots crackle with vivacity. No idea when #4 is due but I’m confident it’ll be worth the wait if it keeps to the same high standard. 8/10

Writer: Duane Swiercyznski
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: A definite feeling of treading water is starting to wash over Cable, which is a little annoying as there was so much potential in the earlier issues. Don‘t get me wrong, I‘m all for a breather before things go mental again, but if the pace slows to a crawl it can be difficult to get the momentum going again. Cyclops is starting to become a bit of a pantomime villain though, going consistently above and beyond the character he used to represent. I‘m all for a grittier outlook in the absence of Prof X, but does he really need to be quite such an arsehole? 7/10

Writers: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Art: Dale Eaglesham, Nathan Massengill, Jerry Ordway & Bob Wiack
DC $2.99

Matt C: I can handle it small doses but a great deal of the time all this multiversal malarkey bores the pants off me. With that in mind, this minor diversion away from the Gog/Magog storyline is something I could have done without, particularly since I skipped the recent Powel Girl-centric JSA Annual due to lack of interest in occurrences on yet another alternate Earth. The Kingdom Come/Earth-22 stuff is where it’s at for me at the moment, throwing in other variations just feels like padding. Back to the main programme please Mr Johns. 5/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Alan Davis & Adi Granov
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: It‘s a massive eventy-type thing. I get that. But the whole novelty of alternate universes has long since passed, leaving something of a bitter taste when a whole issue is wasted on putting the same characters into slightly different environments and utilising different language. Especially when half of said comic is used up by printing script breakdowns et al. An annoying waste of cash, even if the art is nice. 2/10

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Eric Nguyen
Dark Horse Comics $3.50

Matt C: A lot of rave reviews for this book caused me to read it a second time because I felt I was missing what others were seeing. It’s a neat concept, sure, having Earth as a huge environment for reality TV shows watched by alien races, but while this first issue has a lot in the way of carnage and mayhem there’s little in the way of solid hooks to entice people in. I’m mildly intrigued to see where this goes but my bank balance will dictate whether I pick up the next instalment. 6/10

Writer: Christos Gage & Dan Slot
Art: Steve Uy
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: One of those rare things: a one-shot alongside an ongoing series with an actual impact to be had. This special resolves one of the more interesting sub-plots from The Initiative, in what Hardball did next in relation to him being a double agent for Hydra. With his girlfriend being part lizard and reasonably short-tempered, it‘s fair to say that the energy-ball hurling hero is between a rock and a hard place. The end results are quite entertaining, but with such a huge cast of characters there‘s every chance we‘ll never see the majority of the ones featured here again, and after the good work done by Gage and Slott here that would be a real shame. 8/10

Writer: Joe Kelly
Art: Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I kind of hoped this would make it beyond a two-parter; the momentum was definitely there to carry this story beyond a couple of issues but instead we get an over-too-quickly scenario. Kelly continues bringing in the wit and Bachalo brings the stupedndous art, but as the saying goes, you can’t get enough of a good thing. This was a very good thing for which we simply didn’t get enough of. 7/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: David Finch
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: Bugger. It‘s Jeph Loeb writing an Ultimate universe book that easily has the potential to go tits up. As many of us have an inkling that said universe is on borrowed time anyway, this could be the final nail in coffin if it doesn’t go well. The first issue follows the usual big event formula of presenting a massive splash page of disaster, with possible major character deaths. To this end it’s not a depressing mess, but in the same sense it’s not anything unexpected, giving both Loeb and the Ultimate universe something of a stay of execution. 7/10

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