25 Jan 2009

Mini Reviews 25/01/09

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 instalment of Matt C's Byrne FF project.


DARK AVENGERS #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mike Deodato

Marvel $2.99


Matt T: It's no great surprise that, since Dark Avengers
seems to be modelled on the recent run of Thunderbolts, the artist from that title has moved across. The results are relatively sedate for a first issue, establishing a team and possible antagonist for them to battle. Of course filling this new Avengers team (and by the way, 'Dark' Avengers?! How many bloody Avengers do Marvel want?) with facsimiles of the other teams will lead to a battle of some variety, but I'm thankful the identity reveals for this new team haven’t been drawn out over the entire run. A solid start, but God knows both Civil War and Secret Invasion made the same kind of introduction so I'm cautiously optimistic that Bendis won't fuck it up. 7/10


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #584
Writer: Marc Guggenheim

Art: John Romita Jr & Klaus Janson
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: The beginning of the story arc that should finally put the whole spider-tracer killer storyline to bed gets off to a slightly wonky start with some decent character mom
ents and fantastic art, but also some cheesy asides and lame gags. The soap opera elements are, on the whole, successful and keep a level of constituency to a series with multiple writers. Hardly classic material but a decent read all the same. 7/10


CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #7
Writer: Timothy Truman
Art: Tomas Giorello & Richard Corben
Dark Horse $2.99

Matt C: The first arc of the latest Conan book draws to a close, and overall it’s been a hugely impressive return to form following the slighting lagging feeling that accompanied the end of the preceding series. Truman has shown he implicitly understands Robert E Howards’s famous barbarian and the world he inhabits, while Giorello has improved tremendously since he joined the creative team, finally proving himself to a more than worthy replacement to Cary Nord. The Corben illustrated interludes focusing on Conan’s granddaddy have given us an enlightening insight into where the “black-haired, sullen-eyed” warrior obtained his wandering spirit. Fantastic stuff, and I’m now very excited to see the Black Colossus adaptation, which commences next issue. 8/10


THUNDERBOLTS #128
Writer: Andy Diggle
Art: Roberto De La Torre
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Much like Dark Avengers, this is an introduction to the new team, but is dealt with in a far more interesting fashion. Seeing Ant-Man as his usual sleazy, lecherous self on a much more upfront team makes me feel far more confident for the future, especially as the rest of the line-up look particularly mean on the cover. Giving Diggle his own toys to play with may well spell disaster, but once more I'm edging to the hopeful side on this evidence. 8/10


PUNISHER: FRANK CASTLE MAX #66
Writer: Duane Swiercztnski

Art: Mi
chel Lacombe
Marvel MAX $3.99


Matt C: A new title, a new price, and a new creative team ,lead to a conundrum. Do I continue with this book? The story is slightly clich├ęd but I found myself enjoying it far more than I anticipated, even though it was obvious pretty much from the get-go that it wasn’t going to match up to the previous story arc. And that’s the crux of the matter. It’s not as good as it was but it now costs 33% more than it used to. Following my recent Thought Bubble rant, this could be a title I drop because I’m not convinced it’s value for money any more. I’ve not come to a firm decision, but I’m getting close. We’ll see. 7/10


MIGHTY AVENGERS #21
Writer: Dan Soltt

Art: Khoi Pham
Marvel $2.99


Matt T: A resounding 'wha?' for this book, stemming mostly from the fact that magic has made everything go tits up. Major characters die, which normally spells a hasty 'it was all a dream'-type approach, which makes me care very little about the future of this title. The line-up has potential, but with the other 854 Avengers books hustling for shelf space and New Avengers still to make an appearance, this is more than likely the one that'll suffer on my pull-list. 6/10


ELEPHANTMEN #15
Writer: Richard Starkings
Art: Ian Churchill & Boo Cook
Image $2.99

Matt C: The virus plotline kind of lost me early on but everything involving
Obidah Horn, Sahara and Joshua Serengeti is juicy stuff. Boo’s inks completely transform Churchill’s pencils into something quite different (and, in my opinion, better) than we’re used to seeing from the artist. The Vanity Case back-up was a fun but a bit throwaway, and I’m hoping we’ll get into some meatier subject matter next time around. 7/10


X-FACTOR #39
Writer: Peter David
Art: Valentine De Landro
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Holy crap. I kind of saw the ending coming, but it was still a gut-punch. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, so it's difficult to flesh out how bad this made me feel for the core characters in t
his book. Anyone following the Siryn pregnancy storyline will know that it's reaching a climax here, and thankfully the major event isn't treated as a last page cliffhanger, but occurs midway through, so the repercussions can be seen as well. I have no idea how this will end, but I'm impressed by Peter David's build up and execution of a really emotional plot, which has plenty left in it. 9/10


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Brad Walker, Carlos Magno, Victor Olazba & Jack Purcell
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: This book continues to retain pole position out of DnA’s two cosmic titles at the moment as it weaves its way deeper into the War Of Kings event with some amusing shenanigans centred around 42, the Negative
Zone based superhuman prison. The change of artist halfway through doesn’t really do the otherwise unstoppable momentum any favours, but that aside this remains a joy. 7/10


GREEN LANTERN #37
Writer: Geoff Jo
hns
Art: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira
DC $2.99

Matt C: On occasion Geoff Johns does seem to pack a little too much into his stories, not allowing characters a hell of a lot of breathing space, and this issue is fine example of that. There’s still plenty of excitement, with Reis’ artwork causing the action to burst off the page, but there’s often too much going on at once to really pull you in to the mayhem fully. There are some absolutely brilliant moments with Sinestro though, which sufficiently displays that while he is the best writer currently playing in the DC Universe, sometimes he needs to shift down a g
ear. 7/10


SPIDER-MAN NOIR #2
Writers: David Hine & Fabrice Sapolsky
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Marvel $3.99


Matt T: I wa
s something of a late starter on the first issue, so after being very impressed by it I snapped up the second part straight away. The formulaic origin, which we all knew was coming, is at least gotten rid of within a page or two, and there are a few interesting twists to keep me on board for #3. What I'm hoping is that this doesn't turn into an alternate universe book a la the Ultimate universe, in which the only interesting aspect is how the original characters have been twisted. So far I love the setting and characterizations, so here's hoping David Hine and co can keep it up for the remaining two. 8/10


UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Mitch Breitweiser & Daniel Acuna
Marvel $3.99

Matt T: I've b
een hearing good things about Matt Fraction from my Paradox Comics Group cohorts, but from this evidence I'm not going to seek out his entire back catalogue. Trying to retcon part of the pile of arse that was the Dark Reign one-shot only makes me remember what a waste of money it was, and the characterizations are way off for most of the cast, including a suddenly gay Sebastian Shaw. We know Emma Frost is a bit of a bitch, but the manner in which she fobs off Cyclops on the phone is a universe away from her motivations in the other X-books. 3/10

Matt C: Spotlighting Emma Frost, and giving us further insight into how and why she’s caught up in Norman Osborn’s anti-Illuminati, this annual is more interesting/intriguing than particularly riveting. Frost’s past with Namor was a bit of an eye opener, and her complicated relationship with Sebastian Shaw was well handled, but my general irritation with the whole Dark Reign set-up, along with the element of dryness in Fraction's script, prevented me from enjoying this without reservation. 7/10


FANTASTIC FOUR #235
Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
Marvel $0.50

Matt C: The FF fight to stop Ego The Living Planet – one of the most ridiculous but awesome characters in the Marvel Universe – from destroying Earth. The premise suggests slightly more in the way of a cosmic extravaganza than it delivers, and there is a sense of wasted potential lurking under the surface, but Byrne’s terrific handling of the titular foursome, and the way he draws out their distinctive personalities, ensures it remains a thoroughly engaging read even if the plot is ultimately unsatisfying. 7/10

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