1 Dec 2013

Mini Reviews 01/12/2013

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.

BLACK SCIENCE #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Matteo Scalera & Dean White
Image $3.50

James R: Straight out the blocks and Remender's Black Science starts in astonishing fashion. Like many people, I was won over by Remender's run on Uncanny X-Force, but as great as that run was, I've felt that his work for Marvel since hasn't quite reached the same heights (I know Captain America and Uncanny Avengers are two highly popular books, but they haven't quite done it for me). This debut issue shows Remender is happiest when he can set up his own mad universe and then let rip in it, and it's a blast to read. Our introduction to Grant McKay and his Anarchist League of Scientists (love that name!) is a perfect example of how to do an opening chapter: light on exposition, but deft in informing the reader as to what this title is going to be all about. This felt like the Remender of X-Force as in that book he used the plot to reflect on some deep ethical themes whilst keeping the reader on their toes with a wild story. It's the same here, with the dynamite script being perfectly matched by the art of Scalera and White. In 29 page it’s already established itself as a favourite. As 2014 looms large, and with his Deadly Class soon to come, it looks like Rick Remender is setting the bar for exceptional comics to dizzying heights. 9/10

Matt C: Another week, another opportunity to rave about a new Image Comics issue #1! Yes, that broken record is on the metaphorical turntable once again, and it does almost feel like I’ve reached a point where I can set up a reviews template for Image debuts that can be cut and pasted each week with only the names being changed! The fact of the matter is though, this is another blinding opener from the publisher, Remender’s unhinged creative overload bursting through the pages, the near-stream of consciousness narration creating a palpable frisson as the visuals from Scalera and White sear themselves onto the retina. If you like the sound of a dimension-hopping, reality-melting adventure revolving around an outfit known as the Anarchist League of Scientists (and why wouldn’t you?!) then Black Science will require an immediate position on your pull-list. 8/10

INFINITY #6
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Jim Cheung, Dustin Weaver, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, John Livesay, Justin Ponsor & Ive Svorcina
Marvel $5.99

Matt C: The status quo was never going to be shifted in any sort of dramatic manner, Stan Lee’s 'illusion of change' was always highly likely – guaranteed in fact – but there’s always a twinge of disappointment when something that has thrilled and surprised lapses into predictability when it reaches its conclusion. It’s the final showdown with Thanos, and the expected high-octane fisticuffs are all present and correct, rendered with sleek dynamism from Cheung, but it did feel as though all Hickman’s big surprises were already out of the bag before we reached this point. It’s not a major letdown – I’m still of the opinion it’s the best Marvel event in a good few years – but I had hoped for a more resounding finish even though I kind of new deep down I wouldn’t be getting one. An acceptable conclusion to an otherwise rather grand event book. 6/10

NEW AVENGERS #12
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Mike Deodato & Frank Martin
Marvel Comics $3.99

James R: Or, 'When the epilogue is better than the finale'. This week sees Marvel's ginormo-event Infinity draw to a close (and, almost inevitably, the next one - Inhumanity - ramp up). The bumper last issue of Infinity was okay - I still can't quite shake the feeling that it was two plots lumped together rather than an organic whole - but this epilogue was great, and demonstrates why this has been Hickman's year in many ways. The writer shows that rather than the celebratory 'Good has triumphed!' end you'd expect from a mainstream comic, there are far greater threats that lay in wait for the Illuminati. I will inevitably be taking a look at Hickman's Avengers World next year, but for me, this is where he's done his best work, really exploring the implications of possessing world-saving (or world-ending) powers. The plots he teases here look great (I'm really hoping we see plenty more Doctor Strange!) and Mike Deodato continues to be in the groove, turning in consistently great work. It's been a great year in New Avengers, here's hoping 2014 carries on in the same high standard. 8/10

LETTER 44 #2
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque & Guy Major
Oni Press $3.99

Matt C: There’s lots of talk, lots of exposition but at no point does it feel unnecessary or superfluous; yes, it’s a meaty read crammed with dialogue but it earns the right to lay it on thick because it’s so smart, cohesive and – importantly - enthralling. Shortly after the first issue debuted last month it was revealed that Letter 44 has been optioned as a potential TV series, and it’s easy to see why: an ingenious premise that lends itself well to episodic cliffhangers, bolstered by a cast of intriguing characters dealing with the same situation from different vantage points (Earth and space), each creating their own drama and tension. Impressive opening issues sometimes shoot themselves in the foot by being an impossibly tough act to follow; this is emphatically not the case here. Letter 44 is the real deal. 8/10

James R: After the cracking first issue, this sophomore chapter confirms that this series really is one to watch. Charles Soule's smart move is to keep the potential alien menace at a distance - rather than rushing to a reveal, the plot and characters are given time to develop. The mix of President Blades' political machinations and the perils faced by the crew of the Clark shouldn't work, but Soule blends them together perfectly. This issue also shows Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque really hitting the mark with his art, and as an individual issue this had me immersed and engaged throughout. As with so many of the creator-owned books at the moment, there's a thrilling degree of unpredictability - reading this right after the finale to Infinity, there was no comparison as to what was the better book. I have no idea where Soule is going with this, but I'm delighted to be along for the ride. 8/10

HAWKEYE #14
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Annie Wu & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: Anybody left wondering whether Kate Bishop is a strong enough character to sustain continuing solo adventures after the recent annual should have any doubts instantly dispelled by this enormously affable instalment. Fraction has an implicit understanding of the various tropes he’s juggling, to the point where he can make a light meta-commentary without interrupting or distracting from the narrative. Wu’s art has a lightness of touch and an eloquent way with expressions that slots in perfectly with the tone of Fraction’s script which is at once part of the Marvel Universe but also operating in its own little bubble, strenuously avoiding getting caught up with anything other than what’s important to the plot. And, of course, it’s this adherence to being unique and individual that continues to make Hawkeye stand out of the pack. 9/10

1 comment:

Andy C said...

Great reviews as always guys.

I thought Letter 44 #2 was excellent and dispelled my fears that #1 would never be equalled. It's shaping up to be a great title. Can't wait for #3....

Infinity was ok and I have no complaints but for me personally, the bigger the stage the less interested I became. I've enjoyed Avengers and New Avengers (especially the latter) in the New 52, I mean Marvel NOW, but will now bow out of these titles as I feel 'Avengered out' and for no particular reason I have no interest in Inhumanity. Just doesn't appeal to me.