14 Dec 2008

Mini Reviews 14/12/2008

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: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Alex Maleev
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: In this time of credit-crunching and general lack of money, Marvel want us to part with $3.99 for this crap. I mean really. Bendis is writing every character the same, and Norman Osborn sounds completely wrong. Not to mention the Swordsman who, for an upper-class German who's always looked down on the general Marvel U and barely hidden his disdain for even his T'bolts team mates, miraculously turns into a 30 year-old American. Calling someone a "whackjob"??? Seriously? Even the concept is a little flawed, with the biggest and baddest gathering together in one room to have a pleasant chat (with one of the biggest psychos in the Marveldom). There's so much wrong I could be here all day, but needless to say I'll be a lot more discerning about which Marvel titles I buy in the New Year. 1/10

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

Matt C: And once again the overall reaction is a headscratching “Eh?”. The opening scene on Oa was sporadically cool and I quite liked the tussles between members of the Marvel family, but on the whole there seemed to be a continued lack of cohesiveness to the plotting. It often felt like I was reading each page and then my brain was shit-canning the information immediately – kind of like in one ear and out the other, or in one eye and out the other. Or something. Art was nice though, particularly the centre page splash, but it’s simply not enough for me to really care what was going on. It’s times like this when I wonder if the DC Universe is beginning to travel too far up its own backside. 4/10

Matt T: Talk about your polar opposites. Where Secret Invasion devolved into a massive fight each issue, Final Crisis has headed into an overly cerebral mess of confusing sub-plots, a mode which I like to call 'Morrison-esque'. When the mad Scotsman is let loose on a title with little or no editorial control, some of his ideas go so far into the stratosphere there's no point in trying to keep up with him. Where the first half of this issue is an enjoyable Green Lantern tale of the Guardians preparing to kick some ass - Hal even says as much - the second is a perplexing New Gods tale that made me go completely bleary eyed and need a sit down. Here's to hoping the last two go at least slightly Secret Invasion, or my head might explode. 7/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Clayton Crain & Kaare Andrews
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: If you can avoid it, don't read this comic while you're in a good mood. It's one of the most depressing X-stories I've read in a long time, with the most of the major characters getting knocked off in a post-apocalyptic, possible-future stylee. The stories are well crafted and intelligent, but bleak as hell. It's a bit of a gut punch, but I'm still loving where Ellis is taking it. 7/10

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
DC $2.99

Matt T: This book is, without doubt, the funnest read I'm picking up at the moment. Even when the time travel drama is getting too heavy, Booster still finds time to bicker with his sister or misuse his powers to pick up Italian food. The storytelling is extremely clever, and I'm loving the fact that even the most minute of details can come back to bite the title character on the ass. The art is similarly jovial, but fortunately doesn't detract from the superb storylines. Good Stuff. 9/10

Matt C: It’s good to have Jurgens back on artistic duties again but I’m not thoroughly convinced by his writing debut on the series with this issue. I know he created the character, but here he seems to be trying to ape the approach of Johns & Katz rather than taking things in his own direction. I’ll give it a few more issues though – I don’t really want to wave goodbye to the title - but on this evidence I might lose interest quite rapidly. 6/10

Writer: Roger Stern
Art: Lee Weeks
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Roger Stern returns to the title he spent a great deal of time on back in the early Eighties for this single-issue story. Unsurprisingly there’s something of an old-fashioned vibe to the proceedings, but it’s given a contemporary sheen by some exciting, lively art from Lee Weeks. It seems kind of quaint now to see a villain verbally running through his origin story to himself as he sits alone in a hotel room, but I enjoyed it all the same. 7/10

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Art: Ed Benes
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Thank Christ for Wikipedia or I'd have no idea what was going on in this month’s JLA! The old Milestone heroes, all of whom were dreamt up by current League writer McDuffie, turn up spoiling for a fight. From what I've read there are the usual Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman proxies, as well as a few interesting oddities, which should provide a pleasant distraction for a few issues. As I'm not massively familiar with the Shadow Cabinet I'm hoping it doesn't linger for long, but as McDuffie is getting the chance to play with his own creations I'm sure he'll string it out as much as possible. 7/10

Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Ian Churchill & Boo Cook
Image $2.99

Matt C: It’s a shame to see Moritat off the book but hopefully the new artistic team can get this series back on schedule. Never been much of a fan of Churchill’s work, but having my main man Boo Cook take on inking duties (tracer!) really adds a whole new dimension to the art (and if you’re familiar with Boo’s style you’ll be able to tell how much he brings to the visuals). Story’s solid, and with a bit more regularity Elephantmen should get back on track very swiftly. 7/10

Writer: Eric Shanower
Art: Skottie Young, Jean-Fracois Beaulieu
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: I previewed this title a few months back and was particularly looking forward to Skottie Young's artwork. Now I've had an opportunity to read it cover to cover I'm rather ambivalent about it. While his exaggerated pencil/watercolour style works to some degree on this classic children's tale, the scope seems to feel a little cramped and claustrophobic in places with some strange choices in panelling (in my own opinion of humble persuasion). Where I had expected Young to show us a 'wonderful' world of Oz I found it to be patchy with doses of the plain and unspectacular. That isn't to say however that there aren't some magical moments; the panel with Dorothy seeing the Scarecrow for the first time I would happily frame and put on my wall. The story is simple with Shanower sticking closely to the well-known script and with seven issues left to explore the whole tale and meet all of the characters (bring on the flying monkeys!) this may improve as Dorothy and Co's journey continues. 5/10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Pete Woods
DC $2.99

Matt C: This is more like it! The best issue so far (by far) of New Krypton, as Johns finally conjures up the magic that’s been missing during this crossover. Superman becomes more desperate to bring a set of murderers to justice, Luthor’s plan kicks into gear, and it’s all paced in a way that ensures it a riveting page-turner. If they can keep this kind of momentum going, New Krypton might turn out to be something special after all. 8/10

Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Jacen Burrows
Avatar $3.99

Matt T: I was expecting an 'oh shit!' moment in this month's Crossed to equal, or even better issue 1, but it didn't appear. Instead Ennis managed to develop this zombie-flavoured survival story into something far more cerebral than the shocking debut hinted at. The infected really are mental, but also have a devious cunning to match, making the potential for even more gory insanity that much higher. Rather than just having a splash page to offend non-comic readers every month this may evolve into something more meaty in the coming issues. 8/10

Matt C: While we don’t quite reach the same level of depraved imagery we saw in the last issue, this remains a completely unnerving read, the kind of book that makes you feel dirty when reading it (and I mean that as a compliment!). You could argue whether there’s any point in putting another zombie-esque book into an already flooded undead market, but for sheer shock factor this takes some beating. 8/10

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