19 Dec 2010

Mini Reviews 19/12/2010

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 penultimate instalment of Matt C's Buscema Avengers Project.

Writer: Jon Price
Art: Rebekah Isaacs & Charlie Kirchoff
12-Gauge Comics $3.99

Stewart R: A pretty decent start for this new series that looks at what would happen if everybody - and we’re talking the whole planet here - suddenly gained access to their latent magical powers. Writer Price just about does enough in this first instalment to keep this away from ‘mutant’ power territory by involving the church, government and the odd mention of a magical entity, but we’ll have to see if that differentiation remains as the series progresses. In any respect, he does manage to create a good air of mystery here while also casting Darius as something of the roguish, ‘quit the bullshit’ protagonist who this story may, or may not, revolve around. I can see why Isaacs has received a fair amount of praise around the Paradox Comic Group of late and she puts in a sterling effort on art duties here, capturing the odd moments of chaos that arise from the return of the public’s abilities. Promising. 7/10

Matt C: I'll make no bones about it, I picked this book up purely for Rebekah Isaacs art, the premise being a secondary concern. Her crisp, emotive style wowed me in the recent DV8 miniseries and she deservedly won 'Most Promisng Talent' at our recent Paradox 'Oscars'. Unsurprisingly her work here doesn't disappoint: full of infectious energy, it's clear that if she continues to follow this trajectory she's destined for big things. Unfortunately the story doesn't quite match up to the visuals (at this stage, anyway). Magic is seeping back into the world causing thousands to discover powers they never knew they had, with the situation looking like it will only escalate. There are elements that work, and some that don't, meaning the whole thing lacks cohesiveness, particularly when you find moments where you are having to go back a few pages to try and figure things out (for example, the two male characters' relationship with the priest isn't clearly explained - are they students, or something else?). I'm mildly intrigued, but it's Isaacs' art that will be the clincher when it comes to deciding whether to come back for the second issue. 6/10

Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art: Sebastian Fiurmara, Michel Lacombe & José Villarrubia
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This could almost be another issue #1: chronologically, it's set before the previous instalment, but as it makes no reference to it, it's almost like starting over again. Obviously there's a framing structure being employed that will make more sense when read as a whole, but setting that aside for now and viewing it on its own terms it works very well. Essentially what we get is another retelling of the lead up to Ragnarok, or at least Marvel's interpretation of the Norse myth, and the sequence of events is pretty much as you'd expect, finishing with Hoder firing a mistletoe arrow directly at Balder. Aguirre-Sacasa relays the story in a fresh, engaging manner and Fiumara and co inject a suitably mythic tone into the characters and surroundings. You may question how many times a man needs to read a version of this particular story, but if you're not adverse to the possibility then you'll probably find plenty to enjoy here. 8/10

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Jerome Opeña and Dean White
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: Just as War holds his axe aloft in triumph on this issue’s cover so too can Remender and Opeña hold their arms aloft in triumph at bringing such a bloody brilliant version of X-Force to us. The five members of this team all make perfect sense now and Remender shares the love fairly evenly across the team as they battle four of the nastiest Horsemen of Apocalypse that there has possibly been. Starting this comic with brief glimpses of where these deadly mutants all come from adds some juicy weight to the confrontation and helps to show why X-Force are in the dire straits that they are. The battles are an example of a writer fully in touch with the powers that he has at his disposal to make the story as great as it can be and then, to top it off nicely, he even manages to throw some Deadpool comedy into the mix which actually compliments the situation. Opeña and White really are working well together coating each flashback to a Horseman’s past with single muted tones and making us feel that Wolverine, Fantomex and co are staring death in the face. Brilliant. 9/10

Writer: Alex Grecian
Art: Riley Rossmo & Frank Zigarelli
Image $3.99

Matt C: Although pitched as something of a new direction, anyone who read the previous volume will be able to tell straight away that it's basically business as usual for Proof and his chums. I'm not sure how much of a 'jumping on point' this provides as it does seem that no knowledge of what came before would lead directly to confusion, even though there are more atmospheric plot teasers here than a head first dive into a completely new narrative. Still, it's good to have this book back, although it hasn't really been away from the shelves that long. Rossmo's art continues to be a distinctive delight, possessing a denseness and warmth that brings the scenarios to life brilliantly, and both he and Grecian have come up with a unique, arresting concept that is still ripe with potential. 7/10

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos, Neil Edwards, Edgard Delgado, Scott Hanna, Cuevos, Damon & Olazaba
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: I’d thought it was almost time to bring my gushing about this title to an end, but you know what? I’m just not ready yet! Dan Slott keeps the comedy flowing whether it be mid-Goblin battle or the hilarious aftermath where Peter once again is forced to take extreme measures to protect his secret identity. There’s also some lovely interaction between Peter and new gal-pal Carlie as seen from Mary Jane’s ‘science-isn’t-my-forte’ perspective including a few wry nudges at just how ridiculously high profile Peter’s life has been in the past. There is a small misstep that doesn’t quite feel right to me and that’s Phil Urich’s inability to comprehend that Norah is not interested while in the same stroke has the cahones to bully a job for the Kingpin. While Ramos’ art is delightful as always there’s a little heavy-handedness from one of the three inkers here and there that jars just a smidge. The backup from Slott and Edwards hints at the near-future with old foes coming back to haunt - or hunt -Spider-Man, and it’s a reasonable addition to this $3.99 book. 8/10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Shawn Moll & Rod Reis
DC $2.99

Stewart R: So we do get a scrap between Hal and a Barry Allen suffering from a bad case of the Parallaxes! The first half of the issue focuses on this clash between friends and takes a look once again at Hal’s previous fights with Fear itself, dancing quite close to the flames of tedious repetition seeing how we’ve heard quite enough about Parallax in the past year or so. That said, Johns does a very good job at finding that balance between Barry and the entity that possesses him to keep things on the fresh side. From then on it becomes a huge tinderbox of Lantern powers as various representatives from each emotional spectrum come face to face with the mysterious individual who has been capturing the different entities. This is where Mahnke gets to shine but while there are moments of awesomeness it also seems like he’s having to work in miniature in order to fit everything in the book - how good would that Larfleeze moment have looked as a full page? The last cliffhanger moment though is a classic and really shows why Mahnke has been chosen to bring us these continuing adventures. 7/10

Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Kev Walker & Frank Martin
Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: Jeff Parker is terrific at writing team dynamics and getting them to work over the course of an arc, but here he takes things back to the days of single, standalone issues and gives us the origin of the mysterious Ghost during a period of Thunderbolts downtime. It’s a tale of treachery and loneliness that suits this enigmatic character down to the ground and also convincingly explains his intangibility powers and extreme paranoia of the corporate world. The very fact that Ghost elects to divulge his secret backstory to Moonstone is neatly signed off to ensure that we don’t think he’s suddenly gone all gooey and it does offer up a window of opportunity for Parker further down the line. Walker’s impressed recently with his depiction of super-powered antics but here he really hits a high depicting the man-who-would-be-Ghost’s downward spiral into a world of mistrust and isolation. This is further evidence that the Thunderbolts are in the right creative hands. 8/10

Writer: Walter Simonson
Art: John Buscema, Tom Palmer & Max Scheele
Marvel $1.00

Matt C: Another mildly engaging issue penned by Walt Simonson, and here he seems more intent on giving exposure to characters his wife Louise was writing at the time in New Mutants and X-Factor. As such, it never really feels much like an Avengers comic, and the appearance of Reed and Sue Richards confuses matters further. It links into Inferno again, but it's one of those ultimately pointless tie-in books that seem to serve simply to remind the reader that a huge crossover is taking place and that it exists in a shared universe that includes the characters of the book in question. After such a strong start on the book, Simonson appears to be treading water on the lead-up to #300 and even the art team can't pull this up past 'serviceable'. 6/10

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