6 Jun 2010

Mini Reviews 06/06/2010

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 Buscema Avengers Project.


MOUSE GUARD: LEGENDS OF THE GUARD #1
Writers: David Petersen, Jeremy Bastian, Ted Naifeh & Alex Sheikman
Art: David Petersen, Jeremy Bastian, Ted Naifeh & Alex Sheikman
Archaia $3.50

Matt C: Basing the narrative structure of this series around different individuals recounting various legends of yore gives David Petersen the opportunity to allow other writer/artists to take a crack at creating something in his wonderful world of medieval rodents. I was kind of dubious when this mini was announced, as Mouse Guard has always seemed extremely personal to Petersen (to the point where you couldn’t imagine any other creator touching it) but this actually works fairly well, particularly since Petersen himself takes control of the linking sequences. Bastian’s contribution comes off the best, his intricate illustrations often evoking a pre-20th century style of sequential artwork. It may not have appeared essential from the previews, but if you’re a fan of Mouse Guard then you should probably pick this up. 7/10


SWEET TOOTH #10
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire
Vertigo $2.99

James R: Sweet Tooth hits double figures this month, and after focusing mainly on Jeppard's back story for the last few issues, this interlude takes us back through Gus' infancy. We learn more about his father (who maybe insane, but seems to have held a few secrets of his own...) and Lemire continues to tease us with both more details of the past and where this brilliant story is heading. If you haven't got on board with this title yet, I can heartily recommend that you pick up the first trade as Lemire's storytelling and art are first-rate. I'm also intrigued as to what Lemire's take on both the Atom & Superboy will be as DC have given him a shot at their regular universe. When indie writers have a crack at superhero stuff it often causes them to lose their edge, or what makes them remarkable as writers (David Lapham on Detective Comics, anybody?), but Lemire's talent gives me hope that we could have a fistful of brilliant comics to celebrate from him by the end of this year. 9/10

Stewart R: Wowsers. Mr Lemire should be applauded, really applauded. He marks the 10th issue with a brilliantly executed walk through Gus's early life as Dr Singh leads the deer-boy through a session of hypnotherapy. Lemire opts to keep the focus squarely on this interaction between Singh and Gus and this results in a terrifically compelling 22 pages of cracking dialogue, wondrous use of layout and a story that's been precisely and lovingly thought out. That splendid double-page of Singh and Gus walking across a giant, sleeping version of Gus has drawn me back to it a couple of times already this weekend, just to stare in wonder. Lemire is a creator who is perfectly happy to change the tempo of his series when necessary and each and every single issue of the ten produced so far have been fantastic reads. People, we seriously have a contender for ongoing comic of the year here. 10/10


THE TORCH #8
Writers: Mike Cary, Alex Ross & Jim Krueger
Art: Patrick Berkenkotter & Anthony Tan
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The ending may have devolved into a clich├ęd scenario where two super-powered individuals throw punches at each other, but this mini has generally been smarter and a hell of a lot more entertaining than expected. When Ross and Kruger have tackled iconic characters in the past, they’ve tended to wrap their tales up in a rather off-putting pomposity, and elected to pad things out rather than tighten them up. The key to this particular series success, I think, is the hiring of Mike Carey to turn the story into a compelling script. Carey knows how to work the monthly format, how to hit all the right beats, and it shows. In addition, Berkenkotter delivered some really exciting and dynamic art that suited the retro tone of the plot well. It turns out this whole thing has been something of a precursor to a new Invaders series, although another contemporary one rather than a period piece. If they get Carey back on writing duties for that, it may be something to look out for later in the year. 7/10


BRIGHTEST DAY #3
Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter J Tomasi
Art: Various
DC $2.99

Stewart R: Okay, decision time. This series does really have the potential to be an unmissable read but I'm not convinced that the twice-monthly format is going to get the best out of all of the various plot threads that we're supposed to be following. This week we get a rather fleeting and disappointing Deadman throwdown with the Anti-Monitor, a brief glimpse at Jason and Ronald's continuing problems as two halves of Firestorm, an even briefer glimpse at what J'onn J'onzz is doing, and then a rather uninteresting couple of pages about Hawkgirl and Hawkman. It's jumping all over the show and when compared to the delightfully steady and concentrated read of Sweet Tooth this week I found this just a little too jarring and a little boring if I'm honest. I suspect that this is going to work far better as a TPB collection where you can get a feeling of continuity without having to remember what the heck everyone was up to in their separate worlds last time out. The art is always top-notch by everyone involved but I'm afraid not even that is going to stop me from dropping this from my pull-list for now. 5/10


IRREDEEMABLE #14
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Diego Barreto
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt C: Just when you think this story is about to hit boiling point, Waid cranks things up a couple more notches, and boiling point appears some way off still. It’s a real testament to his skill as a writer that he can keep everything moving forward, and keep it compulsively readable, without rushing straight into the all-out, decisive confrontation that surely must be inevitable at some point. Following the revelation that Bette Noir had the means to stop the Plutonian before he went on the rampage, her former teammates are unsurprisingly distrustful of her. But, when the stakes are this high, they’re prepared to go to extreme lengths to put an end to the threat of the Plutonian, which includes making deals with their arch-enemies. Baretto’s art seems uncannily similar to Peter Krause’s in places, at least that’s the impression I get due to the impressive visual continuity the title retains. The cliffhanger suggests all hell is about to break loose, but fourteen issues in I’ve learnt that Waid is always keeping several cards close to his chest – he’s not ready to wrap this up yet! 8/10


THE THANOS IMPERATIVE #1
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Miguel Sepulveda
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: Oh you joyous writers, you really do do this sci-fi, grand-scale space opera so very well! Having been onboard with the SBU since DnA took over the reigns it's easy to see that all of the work they've been putting in, crafting and weaving storylines, choreographing various events and titles, has led us to this point. After the excellent Ignition introduction this keeps things moving along swiftly as the invading cancer-like lifeforms of the universe at the other side of the Fault come flooding through to threaten everything as we know it. Pretty much every character that the writers have at their disposal pops up to add to the scale that we're dealing with, and keeping the Guardians of the Galaxy as the main focus makes perfect sense. I was worried about Sepulveda but he honestly has done a grand job and upped his game incredibly well. Admittedly he has got Groot COMPLETELY wrong but aside from that his art is still very kind on the eye. The preview for issue #2 is also jaw-dropping with THAT double-page spread being the artistic highpoint of the week. 9/10


iZOMBIE #2
Writer: Chris Roberson
Art: Michael Allred
Vertigo $2.99

Stewart R: Hooray! The second issue of Chris Roberson's detective-monster story is a pretty darn good read and follows the terrific debut’s promising start. Roberson starts to expand on the different story strands he introduced last time, showing us just how Gwen's powers work and the troubles that they can cause her, giving a little more depth to the gang of vampire entrepreneurs that have set up shop in Eugene, Oregon, and also throwing a little more mystery into the mix with a strange bandaged character (who I suspect could end up being the nemesis to Gwen's brain-feasting heroine). Allred's art remains consistent and really sets this apart from darker 'monster' books. His linework is incredibly clean and when coupled with the fresh, vibrant matt palette he's elected to use it's a real win. Well done Vertigo, you continue to wring the pennies from my wallet. 8/10


AVENGERS #270
Writer: Roger stern
Art: John Buscema & Tom Palmer
Marvel $0.75

Matt C: Namor joining the team has stirred up a whole lot of controversy. The old WWII vets remember how the Sub-Mariner helped them kick Nazi ass; others recall Namor declaring war on the surface world a bunch of times, especially when they paraded an occupying force through New York. Not only does this situation provide an opportunity for the former Prince of Atlantis to ponder his wayward past, it also allows a low-level supervillain to whip the protesters outside the Avengers Mansion into a frenzy and let the team spring into action. One thing that’s particularly great about Stern’s run on the book is the way he always puts obstacles in front of the Avengers, which prevents them receiving all-out adulation. But, even without the public behind them 100% of the time, Cap and the others never give up the good fight. It’s part of what makes them such a compelling (and long-running) group of superheroes. 8/10

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