14 Apr 2014

Mini Reviews 13/04/2014

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.

IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1
Writer: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Art: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Marvel $3.99


Stewart R: I’ll give Marvel some (unneeded) credit; their All-New Marvel NOW! promotion is getting me interested in characters I’d never previously even thought of picking up in solo titles. She-Hulk and Punisher have lured me in for the mid-term at least and on the strength of this debut from Andrews, it looks like the pained adventures of Danny Rand are likely to do the same. Andrews skips back and forth between a traumatic, defining moment in Rand’s childhood and his current state of ambivalence and inability to feel pretty much anything on an emotional level. This is a hero enhanced by one single important life choice and in the same breath seemingly doomed by the cost involved. While this is certainly a great deal removed from the corporate fly-boy Iron Fist I’ve read as part of the Avengers books and the Avengers Vs X-Men event, there’s an engrossing and gritty feel sewn between the two covers here that just sucked me in. Visually, this is a great introduction to a man unable to shake off the yoke of his emotional issues, yet who moves with weightless efficiency when fate throws him into the midst of combat. Just like his protagonist, Andrews’ art-style finds strange balance between murk and sharp focus, delivering a sumptuous opening gambit which has had me getting lost in multiple re-reads when trying to cobble together this review. Hands down, Iron Fists-clenched Book Of The Week for me and no mistake. 9/10

James R: I've already used our weekly On The Pull post to be effusive in my excitement for the return of Iron Fist, so I'll save you all that outpouring again! But having read the first issue now, my excitement has been tempered to a 'Hmm, not bad' feeling. First, let's look at the good; Kaare Andrews remains a brilliant illustrator, and straight off the bat her, he shows that he's a great choice for illustrating the adventures of Iron Fist - his pencils capture the fluidity of the character really well, and his panel designs are terrific. But the whole writer/artist double is a tough thing to pull off well in mainstream comics. In the independent world, having a singular vision tends to suit the kinds of stories creators are trying to tell, but in mainstream books there just seems to be a better dynamic from a team. Andrews does okay in - once again - retelling the origin of Iron Fist, but I didn't feel that he quite captured Danny Rand's voice or character; he comes across as moody and disconnected in a way that I haven't seen before, and for me it jarred the narrative. By the end of the issue, I was interested enough to want to read more, and part of me feels that Andrews' plot will take off when we get to K'un Lun, but on this issue alone, it's a solid rather than a spectacular return for Iron Fist. 7/10

DEADPOOL  #27
Writer: Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan & Various
Art: Mike Hawthorne, Jordie Bellaire & Various
Marvel $9.99

Matt C: I had anticipated this week’s haul of comics being a little lighter on the wallet considering the number of books I was picking up, so when I heard the grand total I figured some sort of mistake must have been made in the calculations. Turns out I was wrong, and it was pretty obvious which book was the culprit. Coming in at a whopping $9.99, Deadpool #27 is far pricier than recent bumper editions we’ve seen come our way from Marvel. People – rightly – raised their eyebrows at issues priced at $7.99, but this is taking it to another level. With a page count of eighty-plus it’s not a bad deal – you get a lot for your money, and it’s all original material – but how many fans of this series really wanted to cough up the additional dough for the twelve back-up stories? Admittedly they’re all by Deadpool writers of yore, so longterm fans will probably be pleased, but they are a bit hit and miss and after a while it all becomes a bit wearisome and repetitive. The character arguably works best via short, sharp bursts of lunacy, which in a sense this does provide, but taken all together in one hit the effect is diluted. Kudos to all involved for pulling this off, and to Scott Koblish for nabbing a Guinness World Record with his cover, but ultimately, while it does contain moments of genuine hilarity, more often than not it smacks of self-indulgence. 6/10

SHUTTER #1
Writer: Joe Keatinge
Art: Leila Del Duca & Owen Gieni
Image $3.50

Stewart R: As we continue to toast Image’s burgeoning successes month on month, week on week, there comes something of a risk - the creator-owned freedom and world building which they are embracing could, and is possibly likely to produce products and series which cross a little too close to each other as they begin to fight for elbow-room in the publisher’s portfolio. Shutter #1 is a reasonable start to what looks to be a series with some potential; we’re given a protracted and well paced introduction to the adventuring Kate, given a decent idea about how crazy her world happens to be and even given that ‘Duh-duh DUH!’ cliffhanger moment which offers insight into where the next few issues might lead. The art is quirky and dynamic and Kate’s evidently a complicated enough lead to make her unpredictable and therefore intriguing at this juncture. The unfortunate thing for me is that it seems as if many elements of this debut are now a touch over-familiar thanks to other current Image titles on the stands. The warped reality and fantasy elements could be picked out of an issue of Black Science or Saga, Del Duca’s visual storytelling combined with a surprise skirmish has me thinking of Riley Rossmo’s style and his work on Drumhellar. Even the strange single panel glimpses at her past adventuring craziness had me thinking of Chew a little. It’s not particularly fair to mention all of this competition, but in a cramped pull-list it’s a big factor that comes into play with my purchase decisions. So while not feeling entirely original, this is a tidy enough start - with some amusing back-up strips included it must be mentioned - which is well worth a look if you haven’t picked up most/all of those aforementioned titles or have the cash spare. 6/10

EAST OF WEST #11
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
Image $3.50

James R: Earlier in the week, with the advent of the new series of Game Of Thrones, Matt, Stew and myself discussed which comics series would translate best to TV. Stew's bet was East of West, and whereas it would be an incredibly costly enterprise, I can see where my friend was coming from; Jonathan Hickman's SF Western has all the elements we associate today with epic television - rich and fascinating characters, plot machinations that keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and cliffhangers that always leave you wanting more. All these factors are present and correct yet again in this month's issue. As the leaders of the six main States gather together for a conference at the Wall, Hickman does a great job of both adding new layers to the existing characters, and bringing in yet more players to his vast story tableaux. As with Image's other Grade-A series, Lazarus and Black Science, this book just oozes class - picking up 90% of mainstream titles after this just gives me a sharp reminder of what an accomplished team Hickman, Dragotta and Martin are. Somehow this book isn't even twelve issues old yet, and to me, it already feels like a classic. My only hope is that the creative team intend to carry this story on and give it a fitting crescendo - at the moment, it's nothing short of magnificent. 8/10

FBP: FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS #9
Writer: Simon Oliver
Art: Robbi Rodriguez & Rico Renzi
Vertigo $2.99

Stewart R: This issue of FBP has messed with my mind just about as much as my search for #8 in the pit that I call a bedroom. The search has been brought on by a strange turn of events in this instalment that has me wanting to go back and re-read the previous chapter so that I can try to convince myself that I’m close to a 90% certainty of knowing what’s going on at any given point in this beguiling series. That’s the delightful genius of FBP; thanks to the permeations of infinite universes and the unpredictable nature of the physics that Oliver and Rodriguez are defining in this ‘reality’ it becomes something of a game, or challenge to keep up with everything that’s transpiring and try to maintain a sense of understanding about the lives that these characters are leading. Where Adam was signalled out early on as the lead, things have become a little less clear since the arrival of Rosa within the pages as Oliver has focussed on her a great deal with her quiet, troubled demeanour and strange history from another dimension making her a devilish mystery. And when strange plot curve balls get thrown at the reader -  a bizarre turnaround of positions here kicked off the head scratching and scouring for the missing issue - it’s not frustration that hits this reader, but a large desire to get to the bottom of the mystery each time by waiting and then buying the following chapter, and that's the important ingredient that makes FBP stand out from the crowd at the moment. 8/10

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