19 Jan 2014

Mini Reviews 19/01/2014

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: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $2.99

Matt C: Still not entirely persuaded by Velvet. Make no mistake, it’s very well crafted, and if you like this sort of thing then it’ll probably tick most of the boxes for you, but from my perspective it remains a little too formulaic. Which is not to say I don’t like it, just that I don’t like it as much as I expected to like it when I saw it in the advance solicitations. Epting, with colouring assist from the redoubtable Brietweiser, is knocking it out of the park in the art category, which - considering his career to date – is really saying something, and I don’t want to be too harsh on Brubaker’s script because there are many instances where it's a case of witnessing a master of the medium at work. I guess there are moments though, pieces of dialogue, that jar to British ears considering we’re dealing with British characters. It’s nowhere near as bad as some comic book attempts at Brit lingo have been in the past, but some fine tuning would have definitely been in order. At $2.99 it’s more than worth the outlay, so no plans of bailing at the moment, but I’m really hoping it kicks into a higher gear soon. 7/10

James R: It's been the quietest week for me in an age in new releases - along with Miracleman (which is a reprint rather than a new title) Velvet was the only book I picked up. I'd love to say that it more than made up for the lack of titles, but sadly it was an ambivalent read. Over in Fatale, Brubaker mixes up his narrative with different themes which make for an interesting read. With Velvet, it reads more like a straight-up espionage homage. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this - Brubaker is an experienced hand and Epting's art is perfectly suited to the clandestine world of spying - but there's just something missing here for me. I read this without feeling involvement with either Velvet, or her mark, Marina Stepanov. For some, I can imagine this title is solid gold, but for me, this is where I step off. I'll stick with Fatale until it's conclusion and then The Fade Out from Image later in the year. I guess I'm happier to play cops & robbers than I am spies. 6/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines & Marte Gracia
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Considering how much I’ve been enjoying Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men, I’m increasingly perplexed by why I’m having such difficulty finding a hook into Amazing X-Men. It’s clear that the writer is going for a different vibe here, much more in line with ‘classic’ X-Men storytelling, which is of course the wise move to prevent it becoming indistinguishable from its sister title, but even with some really quite impressive art from McGuinness, it’s failing to convince me of its potential. I guess Wolverine & The X-Men comes at the concept from a more unique angle, and has introduced a selection of interesting new characters as well as shining a different light on existing ones. Amazing X-Men, on the other hand, doesn’t feel like it’s particularly breaking any new ground. Obviously, there’s not much we haven’t seen before with in the X-Men universe, some 50 years later, but the trick is to attempt to convince us we're looking at something ‘new’. I’m not getting that from this book. I’ll see out the introductory arc but I doubt I’ll go beyond that. 6/10

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Brian Hurrt & Bill Crabtree
Oni Press $3.99

Matt C: I feel I neglect this book too often when it comes to rounding up the weekly releases month in, month out, and I think I should rectify that so as not to give the impression it’s one of the ‘lesser’ titles on my pull-list. That’s certainly not the case; in fact, it’s one of the most consistently excellent books I pick up, never really experiencing a dip in quality, to the point where perhaps I take that quality for granted. Bunn continues to craft a detailed mythology filled with a range of inventive supernatural creations - bought to vivid life by the pen, inks and colours of Messers Hurrt and Crabtree – which he masterfully feeds into a familiar Western milieu populated by fairly archetypal characters that are layered with three dimensions through skilful writing. It’s much more impressive than it’s genre mash-up premise may suggest, a smart, adventurous and gripping series, and although I may not say that here as often as I could, it’s not an opinion I’ve budged on since it began. 8/10

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