29 Aug 2010

Mini Reviews 29/08/2010

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.

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
DC $3.99

Matt C: A bit of a wait for this last issue to appear but once you crack open the pages it instantly becomes worth it. Gary Frank (with able support from Jon Sibal) really knocks it out of the park here; the artwork is phenomenal. He renders Kal-El with a potent mix of power and humanity; scenes where the tension is generated by verbal duelling carry equal dramatic weight to those driven by physical action thanks to Frank’s instinctive command of anatomy and expression. Johns matches the quality of the visuals with an exceptional understanding of not only Superman himself, but also the essential, near mythical, supporting cast, providing a textbook example of how the characters should be written. This mini may have been telling us things we already know but it has done so in a way that felt fresh and relevant. The only drawback I can find is that this isn’t an ongoing, and this creative team, who’ve proven themselves to be perfectly suited to the Man of Steel, are done for now. 9/10

Tom P: The last issue of Secret Origin is much like every other issue of this series: a superbly written, good-looking comic with excellent characterisation and a strong grip on Superman and his supporting cast. That said, it didn't grab me like All Star Superman, but that is, in my opinion, a modern classic and a very different take on Superman. Secret Origin hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel, but then it doesn't have too. If you asked me to introduce Kal-El to a new reader this would be one of the books I would pick. It explains who he is and where he comes from brilliantly. This was the kind of thing I was hoping we might get from J. Michael Straczynski when he took over the reigns of the Man Of Steel, and perhaps it unfair to compare his few first couple of issues, but he’s got his work cut out to match this truly wonderful read from this incredibly strong creative team. 8/10

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Neil Edwards & Scott Hanna
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Ideas start to pile on top of each other as Hickman ups the ante and begins making his end game a little clearer. There’s still plenty of mystery, plenty to keep readers on their toes, but you can sort of see which direction he’s heading with all this as the complexity of the overarching narrative becomes increasingly more impressive. As it zips back and forth from past to present to future, penciller Edwards acquits himself with aplomb with the venerable assistance of the venerable Hanna on inking duty. Paul Mounts’ colours are excellent too, especially the use of blues he employs during the conversation between Sue and Valeria. Having said that, I can’t deny the anticipation I have for seeing Steve Epting take over on artistic duties. As good as this is, with the following issue I think we’ll see things taken to the next level. Can’t wait. 8/10

Tom P: DOOM! "Even Immortals tremble at my name!" How great is that? You have to love the arrogance as a young Victor going around exploding heads and beating people to a pulp. I've enjoyed Hickman's work on the Fantastic Four so far and with the exception of #579 it’s been really solid work as he builds towards his grand plan for Marvel’s First Family. Its mostly a lot of fighting this issue with some high concept setting-up for the next arc when Steve Epting takes over on artistic duties (and who, on his blog, recently admitted "it probably won't surprise any of you to hear that I LOVE drawing Doom, and look forward to doing a lot more of it.") Hickman and Edwards have well and truly whet my appetite and I can't wait to get hold of the next issue. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: R.M. Guera
DC/Vertigo $2.99

Matt C: This month sees Dashiell and Carol taking different approaches to kicking their drug habits, while elsewhere Dash’s long-absent dad turns up to confront Red Crow. That may sound like this issue is overflowing with dramatic fireworks but it’s actually told in a fairly low key manner. Relatively speaking, of course. I guess that just shows the kind of harsh tone associated with this book when you find yourself describing one of the central characters going through cold turkey induced hallucinations as ‘low key’. Stellar work as always from Aaron and Guera and Scalped remains a cut above just about every other comic book currently being published. 8/10

Writers: Kurt Busiek & Daryl Gregory
Art: Scott Godlewski
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt C: What’s this, more vampires? When it comes to saturation point for the bloodsucking undead some may argue we’ve yet to reach it, some will argue we’re already there, while others will have you believe we’re way past it. Me, I like to think that while there’s probably too much of this stuff out there right now (seriously, vampires have never had it so good!) it doesn’t preclude the possibility that there’s more, er, life in the genre. Dracula: The Company Of Monsters brings the granddaddy of the undead, the vampire formally known as Vlad the Impaler, into play. The twist here is that the CEO of a multinational company has discovered Dracula’s remains and intends, for reason unbeknownst to both the reader and our protagonist (who also happens to be the CEO’s nephew), to resurrect him. It’s a good start, differentiating itself enough from the current zeitgeist of moody teen vamps looking at each other to capture my interest, but whether I stick with it depends on where it goes from here. Although Busiek only gets a ‘created and story by’ credit he’s proven himself repeatedly as a dab hand at weaving a compelling narrative, so odds are this will be good enough to even appeal to folks who’ve had a gutful of vampires at this point. 7/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Rafa Sandoval & Roger Bonet
Marvel $3.99

Tom P: Woah! Rafa Sandoval turns it up to 11 this issue giving you some serious bang for your buck. S.H.I.E.L.D agents be warned, it was a bad day to come to work but if you gotta go you might as well do it in style! I could rave for hours about this guy’s art and credit must also go to inker Roger Bonet and colourist Matthew Wilson: from massive explosions to Spider-Man swinging around New York the imagery’s a real joy to look at. I loved the sudden change in direction for one of our heroes and it makes me want to pull out the previous issues of Ultimate Enemy to spot any clues to who the last attacker might have been. The fact that Fury has disguised himself further from his 616 counterpart is a lot of fun. Fantastic work all round. 9/10

Writer: Roger Stern
Art: John Buscema & Tom Palmer
Marvel $0.75

Matt C: More Olympus-based brilliance as the Avengers exit Hades and attempt to round up some allies to try and convince the temperamental Zeus that he’s got the wrong end of the stick. Plenty of action as some of the Olympians the Avengers try to get on side take a bit of convincing. There's some relentlessly exciting visuals from the Buscema/Palmer combo and I think I’ve figured out why gods look so awesome when rendered by Buscema’s pen: the man could really draw beards! Rarely has facial hair looked so magnificent on the printed page! The Masters Of Evil arc (aka 'Under Siege') is more often than not considered the highlight of Stern’s run on Avengers, but revisiting them all now, to my mind at least, this Olympian story is certainly giving it a run for its money. 9/10


Joe T said...

No love for Batman,Action Comics or even Captain America this week?
The latest issue of Batman is essential to whole Return of Bruce Wayne arc.

Matt Clark said...

Not all our reviewing team were present and correct this week, hence the relatively low amount of new reviews.

For the record, Captain America was pretty good (would have warranted a 7/10), Action wasn't as impressive as the preceding issues (6/10) and personally I'm finding the whole Return Of Bruce Wayne story increasingly tiresome. If, as you say, the Batman issue was essential to the tale then it begs the question, why not include it in the mini itself?

Stewart R said...

Yep, apologies folks but moving home has prevented me from getting my review hat on this week!!

X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Storm and Gambit was pretty darn good despite the fact that I'm not fully convinced by the whole Vampire/Dracula storyline. Bachalo and Co at their best on the artistic side of things.

Agree with Matt C on the Cap America summary as it's getting back to its best but isn't quite there yet.

Hoping to be back with a handful of reviews this weekend all being well but well done to Matt and Tom for this week's effort!

Tom P said...

I did pick up Batman and you are correct it is an important and great issue, however I find free time hard to come across at the moment so you only ever get 3 reviews from me and it's the first 3 I happen to pull out the bag! Also I agree with what's being said about Cap. Good stuff!

Thanks y'all!

Joe T said...

I thought the latest issue of Cap was actually pretty week. I would have given it a 5 or 6, as i felt it was the weakest chapter of this arc and it didn't really do much. The Nomad co-feature is tiresome.

As for the latest issue of Batman was included in the Return Of Bruce Wayne series, a.) it's the missing chapter of R.I.P, which was published in Batman & b.) it makes DC more money