28 Oct 2013

Mini Reviews 27/10/2013

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Art: Emma Rios & Jordie Bellaire
Image $3.50

Matt C: I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I can see what Deconnick’s aiming for, and I admire her efforts, but for me at least it misses its target. The script is purposefully gossamer which aids in creating the supernatural, ethereal tone but also hampers it by making it extremely difficult to latch onto anything. It’s kind of the same deal with the art: lots of beautifully imagery but it doesn’t always flow together smoothly, meaning narrative hiccups present themselves when they probably shouldn’t.  I’m not compelled to have an extreme reaction to it by any means but this’ll be my first and only issue of the book. 6/10

James R: With 2013 being very much the year of Image comics, this week showed that they're seriously not letting up with the release of Velvet and the western-themed Pretty Deadly. Both books show just why Image are doing so well - they're a company allowing creators to be creative and not having to tow an editorial line or build a storyline into a unwieldy event book. That said, I wasn't massively sold on Pretty Deadly. It's not because there's anything wrong with the book - Kelly Sue Deconnick's script covers a lot of ground and establishes her frontier world really well, and Emma Rios' pencils portray a nice mix of grit and magic. If anything, the book felt a little too familiar. The West has been such a rich seem for so many authors, I couldn't help but feel that I'd seen every one of these characters before. I'll be giving issue two a shot to see if Deconnick takes it up a notch next time, but this was pretty straightforward rather than spectacular for me. 6/10

Stewart R: I’ll admit, the meandering start to this much talked about debut was one of the more difficult comic book reads I’ve had this year. Emma Rios elects to frame everything in close-up or with indirect focus through the first half dozen pages, which certainly increases the level of mystery, yet perhaps pushes a touch too far into confusion when combined with the slightly stuttering narrative early on. That said, by the time Kelly Sue Deconnick’s storyteller performance piece in the frontier town has finished setting the premise up, things get a darn sight easier to follow and certainly with a second read through I could properly grasp what she and Rios are trying to do. The relatively unexplained relationship between Fox, Sissy and their small posse is definitely intriguing whilst Johnny’s unplanned reacquaintance with Alice is enough to clearly set her up as an antagonist (protagonist?) to be feared indeed. The early art decisions aside, I really do like what Rios and Bellaire put upon the paper in this first issue, reminding me somewhat of manga efforts such as Vampire Hunter D while also having a distinctly European feel to the aesthetic too. Deconnick has a good feel for the required, no-nonsense dialogue that solidifies this as a twisted Western tale and though it seems set to be a book to divide opinion, I’ll be sat on the side of the argument which definitely requires buying the second issue. 7/10

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $3.50

Matt C: Brubaker and Epting are a class-act pairing, you just need to look at what they’ve collaborated on in the past to see that, particularly their rightly lauded run on Captain America.  Their work on that book had a heavy espionage slant, and clearly Brubaker has a particular affection for the genre, which makes Velvet a welcome if not entirely surprising addition to Image’s current output. It’s not totally convincing straight off the bat, it’s a bit too formulaic and possibly too reminiscent of other female-centred popular spy fiction of the era it’s set in (late ‘60s/early ‘70s), but it’s a solid start, both Brubaker and Epting delivering what’s expected of them (with some lovely colouring from Brietweiser) but only what’s expected, and nothing really beyond that. If you consider this is them working without any Big Two mandated editorial constraints ,is too much to expect a little bit more? It’s early, and I know what these guys are capable of, so I’m a long way from writing Velvet off, but I do think it needs to move up a gear going forward. 7/10

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: James McKelvie, Kris Anka & Mike Norton
Marvel $2.99

Matt C:  A minor online kerfuffle earlier this week when Bleeding Cool photographed Tom Hiddleston holding up a copy of this issue at the premier of Thor: The Dark World, open at a hugely spoilerish page. Said photo quickly went viral, inadvertently revealing the twist for a number of fans before they’d got their hands on a copy. Without giving away too much here, no one should be too surprised; the writing’s been on the wall for a while, and the forthcoming Loki: Agent Of Asgard series kind of confirmed suspicions. A large part of the appeal of this volume of Young Avengers for me was seeing the continuing adventures of Kid Loki following the ending of Kieron Gillen’s excellent run on Journey Into Mystery, and admit I probably wouldn’t have lasted this long with the series if he wasn’t a key ingredient. It’s been cleverly plotted and there’s been some wonderfully creative artistry deployed by McKelvie, but it was Loki that brought the whole thing to life. So, this is a transitional chapter of a storyline that has gone a bit too long, not only in the way it alters the dynamic of the team but also in the way my relationship with the book changes. If there’s one thing that keeps you coming back to a title, and that thing’s suddenly removed, well… perhaps it’s the sign I needed to bail. Once this is arc is wrapped up I’ll have to let it go ahead without me. 6/10

James R: There's a certainly a magic when Gillen & McKelvie work together. Those of us that read Phonogram certainly haven't been surprised by the level of creativity and humour in this title. Kieron Gillen has published an excellent workblog acting as a 'Director's commentary' for this series, and to quote him: "Yeah, first three pages we're referencing Shakespeare, old goth bands and Scooby Doo." Not only do they do this, but they tell a story that feels fresh and unlike anything else in the Marvel Universe at the moment. Alongside Hawkeye, this title really demonstrates what is possible in mainstream comics with the right combination of talent and editorial support. The one sad factor here is that it looks like Loki will soon be vanishing to star in Loki: Agent Of Asgard, but as long as Gillen & McKelvie are working so well in concerto, I'd still be picking this book up. I'm willing to go on record and say I'd read it if it starred Squirrel Girl and Leap-Frog - as long as Gillen & McKelvie are there, so am I. 8/10

Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Garry Brown & Jordie Bellaire
Dark Horse $3.50

Stewart R: The really neat trick that Brian Wood manages to pull off with each and every issue of The Massive is that he’s guaranteed to fill his cast with at least one character whose opinion, stance or perspective, on whichever mission or situation the crew of the Kapital currently find themselves in, you agree with. One month you might be backing Callum, cursing Ryan’s naivety and really thinking Mag’s agenda is unsupportable and then the next things have flipped around thanks to a change of scenery. That’s what happens here as the skeleton crew of the Kapital find themselves back in the literal waters of their pre-crash, core mission when dealing with a whaling community that holds fractious historical ties to their reinvigorated leader. Wood’s grip with punchy, enthralling dialogue and interactions has not slipped since the debut issue and Cal’s meeting with Bors is especially well written as two generals swapping tired, menacing pleasantries on the eve of battle. Brown delivers another fine chapter that’s light on action, but is crammed with subtle tension and he should be applauded for his ability to capture such world-weary expressions in his pencil and ink work. 8/10

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Matt Kindt
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: I'm starting to run out of superlatives to talk about this book. Once again, Matt Kindt produces an issue that brilliantly plays with the very form and structure of comics which serves to keep the reader on their toes and best of all, keep you guessing. As much fun as an event like Infinity is, we all know there's only going to be superficial changes to the Marvel Universe once all the sturm und drang is done. Here in the pages of Mind MGMT the very opposite is true. I know that finales are always more unpredictable in independent books, but in this book, there's the feeling that Kindt is performing an incredible bit of misdirection. With every chapter that highlights the unreliability of memory (or of the characters themselves) it becomes increasingly clear that we shouldn't trust everything we see or read. This is comics for people who like to think and be challenged and knowing what smart people a number of our readers are, this is definitely the title you should be picking up as individual issues or in trade immediately. 9/10


Badger said...

Well I didn't rip up my copy of Pretty Deadly like that idiot in America,but saying that I did find it a very muddled read and where as the art is good it's nothing that blew me away and as much as I like western comics with a little twist of the supernatural this just didn't do it for me especially when I compare it with some of the spooky old issues of Jonah Hex,as for Velvet I took a look at it but for me it just looks like Images version of the Black Widow so I didn't buy it.
I've been trying comics out of my comfort zone of superheroes a lot lately and I've so far tried from Image East Of West,Ghosted,Lazarus and now Pretty Deadly but not all of them has made me what to go past issue one except Lazarus which I got to issue two with but I found it too bleak and rather a dull read,so for now I'll stay away from Image unless they come up with a comic as good as the last one I collected from them which was The Sword and that was some years ago,but I will say that one comic that caught me by surprise was
Letter 44,will I make this a new ongoing,don't know what with my standing order pushing near 100 again I have to be very picky with what I collect costing $3.99,but here's hoping issue two is just as good as issue one.
So if any one has any non-superhero comics they can recommend that I should take at look at let me know.
Happy reading people.

Andy C said...

Letter 44 #1 was a corker. I'm slightly sceptical that now the bombshell has been dropped, it might be slightly downhill from here but can't wait to be proved wrong.

The obvious non-superhero title would be Saga which to my mind never fails to deliver.