8 Feb 2009

Mini Reviews 08/01/09

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.

Writers: Brian Michael B
endis & Jonathan Hickman
Art: Stefano Caselli
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The Bendis/Dark Reign combination would normally turn me right off, but throw Jonathan Hickman, one of the brightest talents on the scene, into the mix and you’ve got me interested (especially as it’s clear this is his baby rather than Bendis’). Although Fury’s a definite draw I can’t say I’m that excited about any of the other characters making up the team, but it’s early days and I’m prepared to give them time to breathe, especially after seeing the Hydra angle brought into play. The best part of this opening issue, for me, is the back-up material: Fury’s secret files featuring maps, data and personnel info is fascinating reading and shows how much work Hickman’s put in to flesh out the background of the story, and convinces me that the series has potential. 7/10

James R: Along with the excellent Incognito, this was the other 2009 release I was excited about – I love Hickman’s work and thought Nick Fury’s new gang was one of the few good ideas to come out of the slow-motion car crash that was Secret Invasion. So how does issue one look? A resounding ‘not bad’. I like how Bendis & Hickman are writing Nick Fury, and Phobos remains one of the best Marvel creations for a long time, but the issue didn’t knock me out – they’ve gone for a big reveal at the end of the issue, but rather than jaw-dropping, I found it to be eye-rolling (though I may just be getting cynical in my old age!) Seeing Jim Cheung’s cover reminded me of how great and fresh Young Avengers was when that first debuted, and sadly Secret Warriors isn’t in that league… yet. However, I have nothing but faith in Hickman – we’ll see how it looks in three issues time. 6/10

Writer: David Lapham
Art: David Lapham & Len OGrady

IDW $3.99

Matt T: Some
how this book has transformed itself from a relatively taught, but slightly clich├ęd, thriller into a far more entertaining gorefest. As Rufus the sheep-killing vamp tries to keep his 'family' in check without eating his new human friends, things go a bit wrong in a thoroughly enjoyable fashion. As someone who's OD'd on both 30 Days of Night and the vampire genre in general this book is a real breath of fresh air, with David Lapham making some unpredictable turns and keeping me on the edge of my seat. Good job guys, I'm definitely on board until the conclusion. 9/10

Writer: J
ames Kuhoric
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander
Dynamite Entertainment $3.99

Matt C: Supernatural creatures in the Wild West sounds like a pretty cool kernel of an idea, but y
ou could potentially take that in a multitude of different directions. Thankfully Kuhoric and Alexander seem to have hit on one of the best options: dark, unnerving and gritty. Kuhoric’s script is solid and sets the right kind of tone straight away but I’d imagine the real attraction for many will be Alexander’s edgy, wild artwork. It really is something special and should persuade many to give the book a shot who perhaps weren’t initially sold on the premise. 7/10

Writer: Glen Brunswick
Art: Dan McDaid

Image $3.50

Matt C: Blend in the ba
nality of suburban existence with battling cosmic deities and you have a tempting proposition; a dash of reality with a drop of the fantastical. The script has plenty of wit while the art, with its hints of Kirby and Darwyn Cooke among others, seems to possess a boundless energy. As with several of the other number ones this week it’s not a sure thing, but there are enough positives to get me back for the second issue at the very least. 7/10

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Art: Carlo Barberi and Jacob Eguren

Matt T: With only a single issue of this comic left, I'm feeling a little bit disappointed that it wasn't given
a more time to show what the character can do. I know Teen Titans will still follow Jamie Reyes in his adventures, but somehow it won't be the same. The penultimate issue does what most penultimate issues do, rapidly setting up a huge final fight to see the last out in the loudest fashion possible. In keeping with the rest of the series it's a colourful, entertaining romp with no overly cerebral elements, with the classic teen-centric comic device of the big school dance. It's all going to end tits up, that much is for sure, meaning the final chapter of Blue Beetle should end with a bang rather than a whimper. 8/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca

Marvel $2.99

James R: This ti
me last year Iron Man was one of my favourite books – the Knaufs had fused together Warren Ellis’ ‘Tony Stark – Pilot of the Future’ ideas with some cool 24-esque espionage action. It had character, and alongside Brubaker’s Captain America, it felt that two of Marvel’s big guns had intriguing plots and futures. One blockbuster movie later, and the book is being handled by Matt Fraction who did such a top job on Iron Fist. The problem for me is that the series feels like it’s lacking a direction – I just don’t buy the notion that everybody is now against Tony Stark, and his empire has been crumbled all too easily. I’m sure the idea was to get Iron Man back to basics, but this just feels too basic, and the idea of Pepper Pots being Iron Woman – hmm. 5/10

Writer: Steve
Pugh & Warren Ellis
Art: Ste
ve Pugh
Radical Comics $2.99

Matt C: Even if you didn’t see the credits you’d probably figure out it originated from the mind of Warren Ellis pretty swiftly. It’s got his thumbprints all over it: hard-assed lead character, not-too-distant-future setting, a melding of various genres (in this case, sci-fi and supernatural) and a sprinkling of violence. Difference this time is that Ellis has laid down the bones of the story and Steve Pugh has put the meat on it. He definitely stamps his own identity on the book, giving it a more British flavour than we normally see from Ellis, even in his UK-based stories. Still, there’s an emotional coldness that puts me off a bit although this is offset somewhat by Pugh's lusciously rendered art which lends the proceedings a surprising amount of realism. Not quite definite about adding this to the pull-list considering the number of new titles that have made the grade this week - I’ll have to go with gut reaction when the next issue is released. 7/10

Writer: Peter J Tomasi & Keith Champagne

Art: Peter Snejberg
DC $2.99

Matt T: With a little help from my friends (cheers Matt C!) I remembered to pick this up after recommending it in Ten Forward about three years ago. The first issue was very much the set-up, with only the occasional hint that something more sinister was occurring in the background. The head of the support force for the world's only superhero is dead, and the investigation brings his deputy to the fore. Unfortunately it seems that Alpha One, the hero in question, isn't all that he appears to be and may have a hand in things, setting up a mystery that I'm hoping will echo the likes of Powers in its heyday. There isn't a huge amount to sink your teeth into in this debut, but I'm interested enough to hang on for the next couple. If Matt C reminds me that is. 7/10

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Art: Marco Cinello
Image $3.50

Matt C: A deal with the devil may get you out of a sticky situation but there are alw
ays consequences, as a young woman named Lillian discovers much to her regret. Seagle’s script doesn’t give too much away but there’s just enough to pique my interest. The art bolsters the appeal, investing the proceedings with something akin to a dreamlike quality in certain places, then switching the colour scheme and pencil style to bring it a touch closer to a recognisable reality. 7/10

Writer: Daniel Way

Art: Paco Medina
Marvel $2.99

Matt T: As ever, Deadpool is completely mental. Completely. Bob the Hydra agent is an entertaining lackey, with the title character constantly bullying, berating and occasionally shooting him just for shits and giggles. With the appearance of Osborn's new team of reprobates (are they another Avengers? I can't remember!) towards the end it looks like 'Pool will have a whole new cast of nobodies to take the piss out of, and I can giggle away to myself for 25 pages. 7/10

Writer: Fabien Nury
Art: Jo
hn Cassaday
Devil’s Due Publishing $3.50

Matt C: I originally picked this WWII set tale up when DC put out a deluxe edition of the first half as part of their aborted partnership with European publisher, Humanoids, and although I remember it being pretty damn awesome I’d long ago come to assume I’d never get to read the whole story (unless I became fluent in French!). Thank God then for Devil’s Due Publishing who are intending to publish the whole lot in as a six-issue mini (fingers crossed they make it through….. fingers crossed!). The first instalment lays the groundwork for what lies ahead, featuring a body-swapping immortal, Romanian resistance fighters, evil Nazi's with sinister schemes and a group of British policemen with no idea what they’re about to get themselves into. If you missed this the first time round don’t make that mistake again: the writing’s strong, and – unsurprisingly – Cassaday’s art is absolutely magnificent, some of the best work I’ve seen from him. You won’t be disappointed. 8/10

Writer: Duane Swiercynski
Art: Ariel Olivetti & Jamie McKelvie

Marvel $2.99

Matt T: Cable seems to have slowed to a
gentle walk in the space of one issue, taking the time travel element to the forefront without really doing anything massively interesting with it. Cable and Hope finally reach humanities end, making them more than a little shy of supplies as there doesn't seem to be too many MacDonald's in an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland. Who knew? Still, the lead-in to the next big X-event will start in earnest in the next couple of issues, so I'm glad I've followed the book which looks set to form its heart. 7/10

Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Brandon Chng, Zid & Garrie Gastonny
Radical Comics $2.99

James R:
*Ring Ring*
“Hi Steve, it’s Barry Levine here,
owner of Radical Comics.”
“Hey Barry. What’s up?”
“Oh, just thought I’d see how your new series, City Of Dust, was coming along.”
“It’s not bad – I’ve combined a number of exciting tropes about the world of imagination and set them in a mysterious dystopia!”
“Well, No. That’s what I’ll put in Previews. What I’ve actually done is nick some of the best bits from Blade Runner, 1984, Frankenstein, and Equilibrium, mashed them all together in a rather unsatisfying cocktail, topped off with some clunky dialogue and frankly odd artwork.”
“Okaaaaay. How ab
out we put a load of multiple covers on it, and hope nobody notices?”
“Sounds good to me! I have to dash, I have to go roll around on a bed full of money that I made from the 30 Days Of Night movie!”
(I would like to point out that the following conversation may not have actually taken place!) 2/10

DYNAMO 5 #19
Writer: Jay Faerber

Art: Mahmud A Asrar
Image $3.50

Matt T: It's been a little while since the last issue, making me have to track back a touch to remember what was going on. Fortunately Jay Faerber never strays from the familiar superhero team formula, so I didn't have to strain the old noodle too much. The team has been split apart for a little while now, so the eventual re-team-up and fight against insurmountable odds could hav
e been predicted by even the most casual reader, but at least it's done with the usual amount of enthusiasm and verve I expect from Dynamo 5. A good read, if a little predictable. 7/10

Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Pa
z & Benton Jew
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The Agents Of Atlas mini may not have sold by the bucketload but it garnered enough cult and critical credibility that the return of the group that started life in the 1950s seemed inevitable. With Dark Reign now enveloping the Marvel Universe, writer Jeff Parker reintroduces his team as the “bad” guys to Norman Osborn’s “good” guys. This issue’s mostly concerned with setting up the Agents place in the new status quo, but it’s smartly written with enough humour to suggest this is definitely a series to watch, and the art matches the script’s level of excitement perfectly. All in all, supremely cool stuff. 8/10

Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
Marvel $0.50

Matt C: This time we deal with the loose ends from last issue, focus a little on the love lives of the team, have a hint of Franklin’s latent mutant powers, and give Reed and Sue a chance to take centre stage. It’s a slight tale of innocent behaviour confused as hostility due to communication difficulties that’s only resolved when Reed wraps his big brain around the problem! A fun read, but nothing spectacular. 7/10

1 comment:

Matt Clark said...

Cripes other Matt! You reckon 35 issues of Blue Beetle isn't enough to show us what the character can do? A bunch of my fave series from the past few years never even got near that number before being canned! You're obviously not very easily satisfied! :)