4 Jan 2009

Mini Reviews 04/01/09

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.

This week also sees the first installment of Matt C's Byrne FF project.

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
con $3.50

Matt C: The first issue of this temporary replacement title for Criminal supplies a solid opening to the tale of an ex-supervillain in Witness Protection who begins to slip back into his old habits
. When Brubaker and Phillips work together they seem so confident and in control of their subject matter, so on the ball with their characterizations, so assured in their creation of a suitable atmosphere that it almost renders the end product critic-proof (to my eyes at least). This doesn’t quite rock in the same way Criminal does (yet!) but for fans of that series it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want to pick this up. 8/10

Matt T: The duo that brought us the fantastic Criminal re-team for Incognito, which can probably be best described as a superhero noir. It's an oddly ambiguous start, but also a well drawn, excellently structured one. The central character needs a little work as far as his motivation is concerned, but the Golden Age feel is just about perfect and I'm in for at least another couple of issues. 8/10

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

Matt C: How come this series isn’t receiving the high profile buzz it deserves? I can sort of see a few reasons for this: there are so many X-Men mini
s out there you wonder if they ever gain attention outside of the hardcore fanbase; origin stories can be a turn-off because they get done, re-done, and then retconned out of continuity, so why make the effort in the first place?; comic books tackling real world horrors, especially something so monumentally devastating as the Holocaust – can it be anything other than crass and inappropriate? Well, listen, I had similar reservations initially, but then I read the thing and I can now do nothing but praise the assured approach Pak and Di Giandomenico have taken with such difficult subject matter. It’s far from pleasant reading but while it may be frequently upsetting, it’s the intelligence and emotional power that make this one of the most vital series Marvel have published in recent times. 9/10

Writer: Dwayne M
Art: Jose Luis & JP Mayer
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: I've not got too many issues with Dwayne McDuffie busting out
a superteam he originated, but the build up looks like a relatively sedate team-has-a-fight-then-joins-forces-against-a-greater-evil type affair. This issue purely establishes the Shadow Cabinet as a genuine threat with the ability to give the JLA a run for their money, and that Superman and his opposite Icon are buddies from way back. It's entertaining, but I hope McDuffie has more going on here than trying to provoke DC into giving him a standalone book for the Cabinet. 7/10

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

Matt C: After reading this issue
I wonder whether some things are better left with a bit of mystery surrounding them. After keeping Hawkeye in the dark for so long, Logan finally discloses the events that caused him to retract his claws for good and….. well let’s just say that even taking into consideration the possible-future Millar’s been playing with in this arc, it’s pretty far fetched. Wolverine dispatches a horde of familiar faces with relative ease, and although there is a twist you may not see coming, it’s all very unlikely, reducing the aforementioned familiar faces to nothing more than cannon fodder. I’ve enjoyed Old Man Logan so far, but this pause to add some backstory was a bit poor. 5/10

Writers: Geoff Joh
ns & Alex Ross
Art: Dale Eaglesham, Alex Ross & Nathan Massengill
DC $2.99

Matt C: The quasi-sequel to Kingdom Come reaches it’s conclusion and after such a long build up I can’t feel anything other than disappointment. The journey to this destination has provided plenty of meaty moments but also a lot of fluff that could have been jettisoned in favour of allowing more space for the ending to make a proper impact. There’s a certain poignancy to Ross’s painted pages that should please fans of the original Waid/Ross collaboration, but that aside this is nowhere near the classic it hinted it could be on several occasions. 6/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Luke Ross, Butch Guice, Rick Magyar & Mark Pennington
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I hate to say it, but there’s a nagging feeling that this book’s running on fumes at the moment. The momentum of the already-classic Red Skull/Death Of Cap storyline is still carrying it along, but the title is now merely pretty good when it should be brilliant. There are also a few seeds of doubt out there now that have me wondering whether Bucky has got what it takes to wear the iconic uniform. The final couple of pages are promising though, so here’s hoping they pay off and return Captain America to the top of the pile again. 7/10

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

Matt C: The characters in this book aren’t split down the middle; there’s no good and evil or black and white, just differing shades of grey. Red Crow may have been responsible for some heinous crimes but there is a sort of twisted sense of moral
ity that guides his actions, a warped notion of honour. But in a place where violence is part of everyday existence, it becomes more difficult to judge what is right and what is wrong – as Crow says at the end of another excellent issue, “It’s trouble enough just trying to live.” 8/10

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Jay Anacleto
l $3.99

Matt C: Phil Sheldon is such a great everyman character that the reader immediately feels comfortable in his presence and can empathise fully with his predicaments. This mini is unlikely to repeat the impact of the original but it’s shaping up to be a worthy successor. Both Busiek and Anacleto use their talents to relay a palpable sense of distrust that fits perfectly with the general cultural mood of the early 1970s. 8/10

Writer: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Steve Kurth & Drew Hennessey
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: My God, Hank Pym is one screwed up puppy. When he's not trying on his dead wife's clothes (he's the new Wasp) he's having a romantic dinner with a robot impersonating her. Personality defects aside, this issue simply tidies up a lot of loose ends from p
revious issues while setting up a brand new protagonist for the fledgling team to tackle, but getting a feel for this book may be tricky with the Dark Reign subheading across the top. For my money it was one of the best Secret Invasion books in places, but whether or not too much Osborn madness leaks in will really determine the success or failure of the title. For the time being though, I'm in. 7/10

Writer: M
ark Millar
Art: John Romita Jr & Tom Palmer
Marvel/Icon $2.99

Matt T: From a slightly brutal black comedy/action book, Kick-Ass is turning more into a coming of age story as each issue progresses. The title character meets a fellow costumed vigilante who's in it for the money, chicks and plaudits, then actually does something extremely heroic that doesn't involve him getting his ass handed to him. I'm glad the ridiculous levels of gore have been removed, even if I get the feeling a return is on the cards for #6, and the characters are being developed beyond thrill-seeking nutcases. Romita Jr is on cracking form too, making Kick-Ass an entertaining read. 8/10

Matt C: With the movie adaptation due out later this year it’s getting harder to avoid spoilers as the release schedule for this book gets more and more slack. Will the final issue hit the stands before the movie reaches the cinemas? I hope so, because even tho
ugh the lurid plot sees Millar trying a little too hard to seem hip and with it at times, I can’t deny that it’s thrilling, funny and beautifully illustrated by Romita Jr. 8/10

Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne & Bjorn Heyn
Marvel $0.50

Matt C: It’s 1981, and Byrne takes creative control of the book for the beginning of a legendary run that will last several years. His first issue in the writer’s chair (he’d illustrated several beforehand) plays it safe, pitting the FF against on old foe, Diablo, whose scheme involves setting elemental creatures against Marvel’s first family. It’s almost as though Byrne is laying down a loose template here, giving us a sense of the approach he’ll be taking with each character, weaving in some soap operatics and mad science, as well as a surprise guest star. Enjoyable, but not especially memorable – that would come later. 7/10

1 comment:

Tom P said...

Read Incognito this afternoon and emailed them to say how great it was and Ed B him self emailed me back! How cool is that!?!