15 Mar 2009

Mini Reviews 15/03/2009

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.

Matt C's Byrne FF project continues this week.

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca

Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: We're into segue territory with this issue of Invincible as Tony Stark and his fellow Most Wanted fugitives go about their various missions and discoveries. I like the fact that Fraction has not forgotten about Henry Hellru
ng (you remember him right? Nice guy, used to lead The Order when the Initiative knew what it was all about. No?) and the flashback to Stark's planning is well handled, but the inclusion of War Machine here is baffling. Since James Rhodes has his complete autonomy because of Tony, it doesn't make sense that he'd try to get Tony to surrender to H.A.M.M.E.R. This meeting is blatantly the only way Fraction could see to facilitate next issue's Dark Reign dust-up and highlight the level of tech that Iron Man has at present, but it's certainly a dip in his form to force it in like this. Larroca gives us some lavish touches here with the HUD displays of various suits being the highlight and the cover is one of the best to date this year. Not bad overall but not brilliant. 6/10

Matt C: There are plenty of clever ideas and cool concepts flying around in this book at the moment, but for some reason it’s not really been clicking with me much over the last few issues. Maybe it’s the direction Fraction’s taking the title, having Stark on the run, Bruce Banner style (although to be fair he just playing the cards he’s been dealt); there’s only so far he can take it, only so many things Osborn can throw at Iron Man and his alter ego before it starts getting tedious. Pepper Potts as Iron Woman isn’t working for me either – just feels unnecessary. Still, I like that Fraction hasn’t forgotten about his Order characters, and the covert email communication trick is pretty neat, so there’s still stuff there to keep me interested. Just about. 6/10

Markn Guggenheim & Vince Gonzales
Art: Mel Rubi

te Entertainment $3.50

Matt T: One day, in the distant future, I hope I won't be instantly enticed by any comic with 'zombie' in the title. It's almost become the ultimate lazy writers ploy to inject some sudden dramatic impact and switch genres without really working that hard at it. This isn't to say that Super Zombies is lazy crap, anything but. In fact the zombie element only makes an appearance toward the end, and is more of a result of the 'Super' part of the title. Guggenheim has crafted a decent plot here, and the only real worry is that so many characters from an unfamiliar universe being introduced rapidly means a few may get lost along the way. 7/10

Writer: Steve Nile
Art: Brado
n Chng, Zid & Garrie Gastonny
Radical Comics $2.99

Matt C: How could a title that started off so well descend so quickly into utter drivel? The initial funky idea of a dystopian future where books and religion are banned seemed to get quickly sidelined in favour of a tiresome horror-tinged plot line that felt like it belonged in another book entirely. There was no cohesiveness to the whole thing and you get the suspicion Niles didn’t know what to do with the story so fell back on the trusted genre he made his name with. The result has been pretty execrable to say the least, and the inconsistent art didn’t help matters. If you missed out on this one, well, lucky you. 1/10

James Asmus
Pencils: Jorge Molina and Adrian Syaf
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: Bizarre. Truly bizarre. There was a great opportunity here to do something definitive, actually have a one-shot issue that changed something in the X-universe, no matter how small or character-based that change, and for some reason the creative team have bailed out (or had the rug pulled from under them?) at the very last second. Because of that decision you end up with $3.99 of pointlessness that covers ground trampled over so many tired times before and come away ever so wary of future one-shots with a similar title. Nightcrawler should have been a lynchpin of the Messiah Complex considering his faith plays a huge part in any of his storylines, but that was overlooked at the time, and the brooding, troubled characterisation seen recently in the Secret Invasion mini and Uncanny that offered promise has now been nipped in the bud in the space of 40 pages. Even Molina's great artwork gets replaced in the final six pages which smacks of further decision changing at the eleventh hour. Oh so poor. 2/10

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

Matt T: Ever since the writer change on this title, Booster has taken a slightly more serious tone, which seems a bit odd considering how ridiculous the stories are half the time. For example,
in this issue Booster has to recruit himself from the past to recover a time travelling knife to prevent an energy being from bringing time to an end. It's not exactly Gone With The Wind, is it? Instead what we have is an enjoyable romp through time that needs a sizeable fun injection before it starts to take itself far too seriously. 7/10

Matt C: I think I should have jumped off when Johns and K
atz left the book because, while it’s had its moments since, it’s not come anywhere close to matching the wit and energy of their run. I was keen on the idea on Jurgens taking on writing chores as his art on the book has been a joy, but he’s delivered some rather pedestrian time-travel adventuring that, while passable, is light years away from essential. Another DC title off the pull-list then. 5/10

Writer: Fred Van Lante
Art: Dennis Calero

Matt C: At the end this just didn’t hang together. It was confusing trying to keep up with the characters (and that’s even taking onboard most are variations on well-known faces), trying to figure out who’s doing what to who, and what everyone’s endgame was. It looked great, Calero’s art tonally perfect, but again perhaps everything was bathed in too much shadow, making it difficult to recognise various individuals at different times. It’ll probably read better in one hit when you don’t get a four week gap to forget what’s going on; even though it failed for me, taken as a whole it was something of a worthy failure, an experiment that didn’t quite work. 5/10

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

Matt T: I was hoping last issue syndrome wouldn't befall this book, but annoyingly enough the conclusion didn't quite match up to the rest of the run. Although it was bound to be a bit bleak - this is 30 Days after all - so many characters who'd actually built up some
semblance of an identity were offed in such a short space of time it almost became comedic. People being turned to vamps left, right and centre and a slightly random Aliens homage fill the final pages, and the last panel was a bit of a disappointment. A shame, but I'll still remember this mini-series fondly. 6/10

Writer: B
rian K Vaughan
Art: John P
aul Leon
DC/Wildstorm $3.99

Matt C: I’ve been losing interest in Ex Machina recently, which is a pity since the series used to be compulsive reading. I made a vow to see it through based on the great work Vaughan put in initially, and that includes picking up these (sometimes unnecessary) specials. Having said that, this issue was for the m
ost part the best Mayor Hundred story I’ve read in quite some time, dealing with a murdering whackjob who believes Hundred gave him the ability to talk to plants(!). Enjoyable, that is, until Vaughan derails the whole thing at the end when it seemingly turns into discourse on why fanboys aren’t doing their bit for the environment since they bag up their comics rather than popping them in the recycling bin. What the hell?! I may be way of base with my assumption here, but it just threw me right out of the story and kind of pissed me off. I’m beginning to wonder whether, rather than have various ideas tossed around for discussion and different viewpoints, Vaughan is now using the book to force his political views on an unsuspecting readership. We’ll see if this turns into a trend – I pray it doesn’t because this used to be an outstanding series. 6/10

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Wes Craig

Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: With the various team members spread out across the galaxy at present, Abnett and Lanning are doing the sensible thing and giving an issue or two over to each of the different plot threads. In this issue we catch up with Quasar and Drax as they se
arch for Moondragon, previously believed to be dead although anyone who reads Marvel knows that death can be a temporary lifestyle choice when necessary. Drax and Quasar work well as a partnership as both are the "what next?" Guardians: Drax having fulfilled his life's purpose and Phyla possibly having to face a future without her true love. The writers also show that they know their cosmic Marvel universe well and are free to play with it how they see fit, digging out an old foe from the archives for some 'fun'. Craig's art suits the setting well although he occasionally makes Phyla look much younger than she has been portrayed previously and the cover is just slightly misleading. Still a quality read though, and the next issue promises to be even better. 7/10

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

Matt C: I imagine unintentionally killing your boyfriend following a deal made with the Prince of Darkness and then having to make another deal with him in order to get your loved one back isn’t a situation anyone would be happy with, but that’s where Lillian finds herself in this enjoyably off-centre mini. Although Seagle’s story is solid enough, it’s Cinello’s art that really makes this book so enticing: from semi-caric
ature, to semi-realism, to semi-abstract, both the illustrations and colour scheme enliven each and every scene, pushing them places many other artists wouldn’t even think to take them. Recommended for those looking for something off the beaten track. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Davide Furno
DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt C: Another month, another issue of Scalped where Aaron zooms in on another fucked up individual, the kind you’d never want to meet in a dark alley. Where last month we were introduced to a totally new character, this time we hook up with the wholly unpleasant Diesel; he’s previously been a secondary player but is now obviously set for bigger things. Not sure where Aaron is headed with this though since it’s the sec
ond part of a five-issue arc but comes across like one of those single-issue character studies he does so well, and it has no discernible links to the first part of the story. Still, it’s not like the man doesn’t know what he’s doing, and recurring guest artist Furno is always a welcome presence, so I’ll just sit back, enjoy, and look forward to seeing how it all slots together. 8/10

Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
Marvel $0.60

Matt C: Byrne ratchets things up to a cosmic level as former herald of Galactus, Terrax, arrives on Earth bringing with him a huge dollop of destruction and mayhem. His endgame isn’t made clear until the final page of the issue, but the reveal’s a doozy. The writer proves he can bring a full-scale epic dimension to the proceedings as we get a host of familiar guest starts joining in the fun as things go from bad to worse. Bryne’s art easily copes with the subject matter and you do get a sense that he’s beginning to open things up and start playing on a broader canvas. Fantastic stuff, as it should be. 8/10

No comments: