11 Jan 2009

Mini Reviews 11/01/09

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 next installment of Matt C's Byrne FF project.

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Paul Pelle
tier, Bong Dazo, Rick Magyar & Joe Pimentel
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I’ve not been keeping tabs on either the Inhumans or Vulcan & the Shi’ar Empire recently and a lot of that’s down to general lack of interest. Picking up this one-shot
prelude to War Of Kings showed me that I’ve obviously missed out on a fair few changes, especially regarding the Inhumans, as an angry Black Bolt leads his race on the warpath across the stars following his abduction by the Skrulls and eventual rescue. Why am I jumping into this now having ignored the various minis featuring the characters over the past couple of years? Two reasons. The first is Dan Abnett. The second is Andy Lanning. These two (with the help of a Keith Giffen and a slew of talented artists) have turned Marvel’s cosmic milieu from a forgotten part of the company’s fictional universe into possibly the most vital and exciting place to be. I spent most of the issue reacclimatizing myself with the various characters before folks I’m more familiar with (Nova, Guardians Of The Galaxy) get involved in the conflicts, and while I wasn’t exactly blown away, if you consider that both Annihilation minis pissed on Civil War and Secret Invasion from a great height, we should be in safe hands over the next few months. 7/10

Writer: Paul D
Art: Dusti
n Nguyen & Derek Fridoles
DC $2.99

Matt C: I’d kept away from Detective while it got sucked into Morrison’s Batman RIP storyline but now all that’s a thing of the past I thought I’d take a look again as I’d been enjoying Dini’s work on the title when its direction didn’t feel like it was being dictated by the Scotsman or Dan D
idio. Initially I thought maybe I should have waited a little while longer as the issue turned out to be entirely focused on Hush, a character I’ve never had any great affection for. Having said that, Dini’s tale of the villain passing himself off as Bruce Wayne was quite entertaining and Nguyen’s art is always a pleasure to see. Not great, but certainly readable. 6/10

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Art: Kev Walker

Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The final page sets up a fourth series, which just proves how wel
l Marvel can flog a dead horse. This mini started off fairly well and had pluses in the shape of some genuinely humourous moments and some effectively grungy art, but unfortunately it quickly became apparent that the whole superhero-zombie thing is way past its sell-by date. 5/10

Writer: Davi
d Lapham
Art: David Lapham & Len O'Grady
IDW $3.99

Matt T: A little more background to this spin-off from the superb Steve Niles comic 30 Days of Night has made all the difference, as the vampire trying to get by with average humans is an interesting twist on a genre that was starting to look a little tired.
The art and writing from Lapham are spot-on, with the change in palette when a character vamps out a particular highlight. I'm looking forward to the next issue and hoping Lapham can crank up the tension when some old friends invade the central characters carefully constructed life. 9/10

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Art: Dennis Calero
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: At certain points in this series it feels like the aesthetics of the genre are being applied a little too heavily: by bathing everything in sh
adow it becomes difficult to ascertain who’s who amongst the characters. Obviously Cyclops’ glasses and Professor X’s slaphead single them both out, but it’s not always immediately clear who the rest of them are. Still, the general moodiness and hardboiled nature of the book is impressive and the pseudo-pulp prose back-up is pretty nifty. 7/10

Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Art: Emma Rios
Boom Studios! $3.99

Matt C: A likeable debut that doesn’t thrust us into its world of magic, angels and demons straight away, preferring instead to give us a handle on its central character, Luci Jenifer Inacid Das Neves (or Lucifer for short!). I’m quite often resistant to anything related to the magic genre
but this piqued my curiosity enough for me to want to see more. And, really, any comic that makes such creative use of a fat man’s corpse has got to be headed in the right direction! 7/10

Writer: Duane Swiercynski
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99

Matt T
: I'm a shameless fan of this book, as it uses the time travel aspect in the most intelligent manner I've seen in many years of reading comics, and the characters of Bishop and Cable are superbly written throughout. Although this is something of a transitional issue which will doubtless lead to a huge fight over the next couple, the quieter moments still pack a punch, especially when tragedy strikes Cable's time-hopping family. Olivetti's art really works here, and the action scenes pop off the page. A great read, even when the plotline is heading towards an inevitable conclusion. 8/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Although Dark Reign as a concept is a bit of a turn-off for me, I do like the idea of pitting Tony Stark against Norman Osborn, at least the way Fraction is writing it. Even better is Tony’s idea for making sure Osborn never gets hold of the old SHIELD databases after the former downloaded them in their entirety into his own brain! After a bit of a stumble this title - with its hybrid mix of espionage, political intrigue, outlandish science and superheroics - is back to being a thoroughly gripping read. 8/10

Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
Marvel $0.50

Matt C: Keeping it low key as Byrne puts Johnny Storm in the spotlight, giving him a chance to play amateur sleuth when he looks into the case of an old school bully who’s just been fried for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Elsewhere seeds of future discontent are sown as the Torch almost gets his head bashed in by a fuming Thing after placing a photo of Christopher Reeve on the big guy’s bathroom mirror! Byrne provides Johnny with a bit more depth than the hotheaded, carefree young buck he’s often portrayed as, showing that character comes first when dealing with this super team. His art suffers slightly from the absence of someone else providing the inks, but there are still numerous beautifully constructed panels. 7/10

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