21 Aug 2011

Mini Reviews 21/08/2011

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.

Writers: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith
Art: Charles Paul Wilson III, Jon Conkling & Michael DeVito
Th3rd World Studios $3.99

Matt C: This marvellous series returns for a third volume and as you might gather from the title the spotlight shines upon a certain character this time around. After Max’s revelation at the end of the previous volume the group of toys have abandoned their search for the boy and have gone their separate ways. Percy, Harmony and Quackers look for a way about of the dark while Jester begins another quest, to find the Princess, but it looks like that may prove difficult due to a case of mistaken identity. While it is essentially taking us away from the core narrative, the world Raicht and Smith have concocted is so wonderfully realised that a diversion is welcome rather than superfluous, and in all honesty I doubt the writers would take us down this path unless it tied into the main storyline somehow. The art is up to its usual extraordinary standard, Wilson conveying with ease a world where innocence has been corrupted by darkness, and the sepia colouring adds layers to the emotional depth as well as helping to set the tone. Unique in the current marketplace, The Stuff Of Legend carries with it all the ingredients that help make the greatest fairytales timeless. 8/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten, Dexter & Justin Ponsor
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Back when Brubaker helmed his first relaunch of Captain America it very quickly became my favourite superhero title on the stands with its gripping espionage-tinged 21st century superheroics. Lightening doesn’t appear to have struck twice as already this storyline is in getting dangerously close to being tired and predictable. It feels like he’s covering ground he’s already been across before, in a far superior manner, and I guess I was hoping for something a little less obvious to warrant the renumbering. Yes, the art’s pretty special but even that can’t eradicate the feeling of déjà vu. After the ‘Gulag’ arc that wrapped up the previous volume, coming into this seems like a step back. I’ve invested too much in Brubaker’s work on the Sentinel of Liberty to be too dismissive, but for the first time since he came onboard this is no longer a sure thing on my pull-list. 6/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Pier Gallo, Jamie Grant & Dom Regan
DC $2.99

James R: Another week, another farewell. Once again, with the advent of DC's reboot, it is time to say goodbye to a title (in its current state). With Detective Comics, the finale was tempered by the knowledge that Scott Snyder is carrying on his Bat-duties, whereas here it's a true farewell from Jeff Lemire. I'm hugely excited at the prospect of him taking on Animal Man and Frankenstein after the reboot, but this issue felt a little curtailed. It's a fitting end to the 'Hollow Men' arc but it did seem as if there were many more tales to tell here - for example, the truth behind Psion's trip back from the future won't ever be resolved! Bah. Superboy has been great as it showed Lemire's talent at expertly mixing up the rich tableau of the DCU, from Superboy, to the Phantom Stranger to the Legion of Superheroes. It's a bittersweet farewell then, but you can bet your line-held $2.99 Lemire's new books will be on my pull-list come September. 7/10

Matt C: This series started with a lot of promise but has kind of petered out with a largely formulaic finale. There’s a strong feeling of Lemire rushing towards the conclusion to make way for the New 52, which makes you wonder what he may have had up his sleeve if he was given more time to work with these characters. It’s the characters that have proven to be the most enjoyable aspect of the title since it started, with Lemire nicely capturing the dynamics between the main cast, and when they drove the action – rather than the action being shoehorned in – it really worked. The whole Hollow Men idea was sound but again, it all became a little too predictable in this ‘final’ issue, offering nothing unique to a setup we’ve seen played out countless times. At the end, in hindsight, it’s been a diverting read, but I do wonder how much further I would have continued with it if it had carried on in it’s current state. 6/10

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera & Javier Rodriguez
Marvel $2.99

James R: One of the most common discussions amongst the gents of the Paradox Group is: should a character (or book) be written in a certain way? For example, the recent Thor series isn't beloved by some because they say Thor isn't speaking or behaving “like Thor should”. It's a tricky one - when you're reading characters that you've liked for years (nay, decades!) a sudden shift in how they're portrayed or written can be harsh. For the most part, I believe that a good character can stand up to multiple interpretations, but I have to say - damn, it's good to have the old Daredevil back! After Ed Brubaker left the book it dived into a tailspin of insane plotting - even for superhero comics I have to roll my eyes whenever demonic possession/deals with the devil get trotted out! Hats off then to Mark Waid for getting the book back to basics and to Paolo Rivera for his beautiful pencils. This month sees Matt Murdock having to dodge arrest at the hands of Captain America (in a nice echo of Frank Miller's 'Born Again' arc) while continuing to investigate the clandestine case of Nelson & Murdock's client, Ahmed Jobrani. At every level this comic 'feels' right - Rivera excels at showing DD's radar senses, and conveys action in a brilliant way. If you had been scared off by Daredevil's previous run, now is definitely the time to repent. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Daniel Acuna
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This different-artist-each-issue approach isn’t working for me. They should have stuck with Carlos Pacheco for the whole mini to keep some visual consistency. I’ve liked a lot of Daniel Acuna’s work in the past but here it feels a little too stiff and is so different in terms of tone and style that it almost reads like a completely new book rather than a continuation of an ongoing story. I’m not sold on this new pre-teen Hellfire Club either. Having one super-smart, evil child in play works but adding several more makes it harder to suspend disbelief. I’m still enjoying some of the character interplay, and will see this through to the finale, but I’m not convinced I’ll be sticking around to see what happens in the X-Universe (Uncanny X-Force aside) afterwards. 6/10

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Doug Braithwaite, Ulises Arreola & Andy Troy
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying that, in recent years, the best things to come out of Marvel’s big crossovers have been certain tie-ins which have ended up being far superior to the main events themselves. That’s pretty much an admission from me that I consider Marvel’s major events over the last five years to be, in general (there have been some exceptions, like Planet Hulk), duds, and I can’t see Fear Itself redeeming itself with two issues remaining. However, the Fear Itself concept is coming alive in Journey Into Mystery; not only does Gillen provide an infinitely more engrossing read than the main series has offered thus far he also seems to be able to make the crossover aspect work in his favour, thriving rather than giving the impression he’s been lumbered with a storyline against his will. His take on Loki continues to excite as the Trickster Teen (can I coin that?) manipulates various players in the realms of the undead for what could possibly be a good cause, or possibly something else - you’re never quite sure. The art is sumptuous and I will stand by my assessment last month that this is the best ‘superhero’ title Marvel are currently publishing. Glorious. 9/10

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