24 Jul 2011

Mini Reviews 24/07/2011

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.

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Joe Rivera, Javier Rodriguez & Muntsa Vicente
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: It had reached a point where you wondered whether Matt Murdock could spiral down any further without Daredevil becoming nothing more than an endlessly depressing ride through someone else’s miserable existence. I bailed on the book once Andy Diggle took over and installed DD as the head of the Hand, but while there were some undeniably classic arcs during both Bendis’ and Brubaker’s runs it was clear that the wallowing had to be curbed sooner or later. What was needed was a writer who wouldn’t ignore the despair that had come before, and wouldn’t try to take the character too far in the opposite direction, but would brighten up the tone a little and open up a new chapter in Daredevil’s life. First impressions are, Mark Waid is that writer. He’s a pro, and he knows how to work this ‘debut’ issue so it appeals to the hardcore, the lapsed and the newbies alike. This is still the same Murdock as before, but it’s a Murdock who wants to get in front of all his past traumas and get back to the business of living life, even if there are those close to him who aren’t convinced it’s really all behind him. Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin are both the right men for the artistic duties, and they bring an energy that the glides across the page, lifting DD out of the dour surroundings he’s been relegated to in recent years. A very promising start, all told. 8/10

HULK #37
Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Elena Casagrande & Bettie Breitweiser
Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: Having picked up Avengers #14 a month or so ago I - along with a few tens of thousands of readers - was privy to the full blown scrap between Thunderbolt Ross’ Red Hulk and the transformed and now malevolent Ben Grimm on the streets of New York. That was a bone-shuddering encounter and is worth picking up. Now back on his own title the Red Hulk doesn’t feature as prominently as I expected with Jeff Parker instead taking the opportunity to retell the fight from M.O.D.O.K.’s perspective as he analyses his creation and looks for signs of weakness. I’m glad that Parker has elected to go down this route as it adds some terrific character development to possibly the most interesting villains in Ross’ rogues gallery as well as expanding the convoluted crowd of enemies all circling in for the kill. Elena Casagrande’s art style is a perfect fit for this title, sharing similarities with the work of Gabriel Hardman and Patrick Zircher, and I’m hoping that she gets chance to contribute to this comic again in the future. 8/10

Writers: James Wan & Michael Alan Nelson
Art: Pitor Kowalski
Boom! Studios $3.99

Matt C: This started off with such promise it was rather a shame when it quickly started to bend towards the ploddingly formulaic. It became increasingly more predictable and tiresome as it went along; in fact, it was so predictable and unoriginal that it almost felt like the ‘unique’ details had been fed into a computer program that inserted them into a pre-existing, bogstandard story template in a cynical attempt to create something that can be passed off as ‘new’. Basically, it’s a movie pitch for a movie you wouldn’t want to see as you’ve already seen it too many times before. The saving grace is Kowalski’s art – I said in an earlier review of the title that it worked when things were on the move, and having read the whole thing now I can see that it only ever really worked when the focus was on action and motion. That’s where things cam alive and felt full of possibility. Malignant Man may be forgettable but Pitor Kowalski is a name I hope to hear more of. 4/10

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Airel Olivetti
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: It was a relatively quiet week so I cast my eye across to a title I hadn’t initially considered getting. Paul Jenkins is currently doing a great job in the Captain America miniseries, All-Winners Squad, so perhaps he might be able to repeat the trick with that other Marvel hero who’s graced our cinema screens this year, Thor Odinson. I have to say that, while it is a perfectly acceptable ride into the Asgardian mythos, those of us who’ve been reading tales of these characters for many years will recognize that this is well-trodden ground. Essentially, we’re getting another Ragnarok story, and although it’s not a dull read it doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out from the pack. Jenkins handles the notion that deceit isn’t necessarily the preserve of the wicked with intelligence and Olivetti’s bulky art suits the milieu well, but unless this idea is completely new to you then chances are that you’ll find this mini superfluous to requirements. 6/10

Writer: Larry Hama
Art: S L Gallant, Gary Erskine & J. Brown
IDW $3.99

Stewart R: After a brief blip, Larry Hama has experienced a rise in writing form over the past few issues and this is feeling like a classic G.I. Joe read again. Hama has that brilliant ability to have several different things going on at once that then come together to create an exhilarating read. Here we have a desperate situation for the Joe’s subzero team as they attempt to escape from the clutches of the Cobra forces set alongside Firefly and Crystal Ball - the only dodgy piece of the puzzle with his hypnotism shield and ‘psi-sensitivity - trying to infiltrate the Joe’s New York base. All the while Destro and the Baroness return to the US to try to prevent Cobra Commander making further inroads on their operations. It briefly felt like Hama was juggling too much in this issue but when the mission reaches it’s exciting climax everything makes perfect sense and works really well. S L Gallant and the art team also play a large part in this and Gallant certainly seems to be growing into his role on this comic, coming up with some nicely captured action and some subtler character driven scenes. 8/10

Writer: Matz
Art: Gaël De Meyere
Archaia $3.95

Matt C: The inside cover credits may (incorrectly) say otherwise, but a quick web search of the original French editions confirms we won’t be seeing Luc Jacamon on this title anymore. I have no idea why, and while Gaël De Meyere is certainly a more than competent replacement, doing a fine job of aping the visual style of the previous instalments, Jacamon brought that little bit extra to the table and his presence will be sorely missed. It’s still a compelling tale though, as the morality, ethics and greed tied up to this potential future where war is a money-spinning, audience-grabbing form of entertainment watched by millions increasingly distracts our protagonist. Their scheduling may be erratic, but hats off once again to Archaia for translating and publishing this kind of thing. 7/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, & Mark Irwin
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: No one quite captures heroes slamming into concrete and debris or punches, kicks and blows landing upon various crania like Chris Bachalo. That makes him a perfect fit for this issue of Avengers then as Fear Itself rolls on and the likes of Spider-Woman, Protector and Ms Marvel have to take on the transformed Hulk in Brazil. That in itself would normally be an enjoyable enough read but Bendis grabs the opportunity to look at Jessica Drew’s continuing battle to prove herself. Bendis can occasionally throw too many things into the mix but this superpowered dust-up is better for the all of the different elements involved and also from the continuing use of debriefings and interviews with Avengers to retell the tale. I like the fact that he’s also addressing attractions between members of the team, something that hasn’t really been focused upon for a while, and it’s a welcome addition. I’m not convinced when it comes to the portrayal of Noh-Varr here, and the ‘talking head’ schtick has maybe run its course, but they’re little niggles that don’t distract that much. Bachalo is on top form once again and credit has to go to Tim Townsend and the rest of the inkers for treating his pencil work with the love that it deserves. Well done, gentlemen! 8/10

1 comment:

Joe T said...

I don't know how I feel about Daredevil #1.

The first half of the book was really good, and the artwork was outstanding, probably the best the title has seen. I liked how Waid still acknowledges the fact people suspect him of being Daredevil, with him being hounded by mobs, and the coffee guy. This does raise a problem in my mind though. If they're treating him as though he is still Daredevil, why are they not giving him hell regarding Shadowland? Doesn't make sense. The second story, was too light for my liking. Whilst the title should focus on Matt Murdock and his supporting cast as well as the adventures of Daredevil, I'd like it to be done in the way it was in the first half-the way it worked for writers such as Miller & Noncenti. Stories like the on by Waid/Martin in the second half turn the title into essentially a blind version of Spider-Man. Also, whilst I like Martin's art on Amazing Spider-Man, and the preview art I've seen of him drawing Daredevil, on a story solely focused on Matt & Foggy, it just didn't work for me.

Whilst I liked this issue more than I didn't, and whilst it was a near perfect first issue (in terms of introducing new readers), it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, as such a fan of the Bendis, Brubaker, and (pre Shadowland) Diggle stuff. Also, upon reading my Miller back issues, I realised that they aren't actually all that dark and depressing. As DC have proven with their Batman titles over the years, there's no reason you can't tell a serious story without pushing the lead character to want to kill himself. Waid has the character at an interesting point, and could take the character to great places. If Waid writing the title results in more Daredevil stories like Ann Noncenti's run(which I for one loved), then I am all for this. I'd say it just makes an 8/10. Also, that cover? Love it!

Also picked up the second issues(from last week) of Flashpoint Deathstroke & The Curse Of The Ravager, and Emperor Aquaman. Neither were anything particularly special(though I'm pretty sure the Deathstroke title introduced a third Wildstorm character into Flashpoint), they were okay, and still decent tie in's, but still dipped in quality from their previous issues. Aquaman was better than Deathstroke this time, though I'd give both a 7/10 each