25 Jan 2015

Mini Reviews 25/01/2015

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.

MOON KNIGHT #11
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Greg Smallwood & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I’ve very much warmed to the idea of the baton-passing between creative teams that seems to be this title’s M.O. Get in, fire on all cylinders for six issues, then hand over the reins to someone else. Warren Ellis’ initial sextet was a blast, but it feels like Brian Wood has seen the gauntlet thrown down and decided to take the challenge by producing an arc that’s even better. To be fair, Ellis was more interested in the ‘done-in-one’ approach, while Wood – whilst incorporating elements of that approach – has an overall plotline weaving his issues together. Here we have Marc Spector captured by unknown forces, biding his time before he breaks free, all the while attempting to convince the moon god Khonshu that he’s made a grievous error by shifting his focus away from Spector. Wood’s script is beautifully paced, like a slow-burning fuse, while Smallwood’s judicious use of panel choreography and grid structure builds up the tension to breaking point. Eleven issues in, Moon Knight may very well be Marvel’s most consistently brilliant monthly title. 9/10

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith & Justin Ponsor
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: There’s no doubt that as this event has progressed there’s been a definitive shift of the overall feel. What began as an expansive, action-packed, event-worthy and high grade product has shrunk, morphed and become something that feels like your week to week Spider-Man comic. That change has been a result of the Dan Slott’s gradually focusing script which is showing signs of bringing everything together to a pinpoint tip and the visual shift from Olivier Coipel to series regular Giuseppe Camuncoli. I’d have loved Coipel to be on this throughout, and even wondered if this event would have been better suited to Camuncoli starting and Coipel wrapping up, but the truth is that Slott’s script has more (relatively) quieter, character moments later on in the story and Coipel’s brilliant wide angle, ‘big feel’ work might probably have been wasted. My current problem is that amongst all of the ongoing carnage as the Spiders struggle to find a foothold from which to launch a sufficiently powerful counter-attack against their lethal pursuers, Peter’s voice is still getting lost amongst the crowd as everyone has to contribute somehow to make their presence felt. Every man and his spider gets something to say or do here and it’s only left to Peter to potentially fudge his deception of Doc Ock’s Superior Spider-Man and get all glassy-eyed over the appearance of an alternate reality Uncle Ben. It doesn’t help to set our Peter up as the greatest Spidey of them all sadly. The story itself is still enthralling as the tide of battle appears to shift slightly and there’s still a great unknown about how it’ll all wrap up. There’s a further blip in consistency though as Kaine’s influence is felt hard by the Inheritors in a very understated sequence from Camuncoli that doesn’t feel quite weighty enough compared to Coipel’s depicted fight between Solus and the Uni-Power-wielding Peter Parker a few issues back. 6/10

WILD BLUE YONDER #6
Writer: Mike Raicht & Austin Harrison
Art: Zach Howard, Jolyon Yates & Nelson Daniel
IDW $3.99

Matt C: This kind of situation always hurts the monthly reader. Six months after the last issue appeared we get the finale of Wild Blue Yonder. I’ve read a lot of comics since then (and done a lot of other stuff too!) so trying to remember the details was a bit of stretch when reading this instalment, which did it no favours. Sure, I could have read the first five issues again, but sometimes there isn’t time for that so you just dive in and hope for the best. I have no doubt this will work as fine conclusion to the story when available in a collected edition, as it’s clear the creative team have put their heart and soul into this pulpy, dystopian adventure, but the grade at the end of this review reflects my inability to recapture the momentum of the tale after waiting so long for it to arrive. Still recommended but sometimes us monthly readers get a raw deal with these things! 6/10

Stewart R: As a miniseries, and especially in collected format, Wild Blue Yonder will be an easy recommendation for me to pass onto others in need of a post-apocalyptic survival story. There’s been a great setup to solar-powered airship The Dawn’s predicament, the family that calls it home, and their life and death battle against those forces that covet the key to survival on a ravaged world. Even with the battle lines clearly drawn, Raicht, Howard and Harrison have done a fine job of muddying the waters, showing the Judge’s incessant pursuit of The Dawn and the cost to his people as something more than a ruthless, heartless dictatorship. The artwork has been of an incredibly high calibre for a book initially booted into gear via Kickstarter, even putting to shame the illustrated efforts of bigger publishers in some of their regular work. I’d easily give the series as a whole 9/10. This finale, however, does not quite deserve a mark of that height as an individual chapter and reading experience. The near six month delay between #5 and #6 really did take the impetus out of my read as I struggled to remember what had transpired to this week’s starting point and the ultra-kinetic depiction of the aerial conflict was disrupted as I had to piece together who was who, such is the glorious, yet confusing, chaos. We get a little more insight into the Judge’s past before the story comes to a close and I couldn’t help but feel that, while it adds something extra to the climax, it might have been better placed one issue earlier in the series to add more weight to the endgame. In that respect I also feel that perhaps the consequences of this war are not addressed from one side’s perspective, but that admittedly leaves the writing to the mind of the reader which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a shame that the delay led to a disjointed read in a series that deserves to be read, especially in collected form. 7/10

ELEKTRA #10
Writer: W. Haden Blackman
Art: Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: As Elektra comes ever closer to her quarry - the leader of the Assassin’s Guild who put the bounty upon her head - she has to go through stranger and stranger trials in order to uncover the path and in this penultimate issue she is taken by Blackman and Del Mundo on a journey into one of the most unpleasant destinations in the Marvel Universe: Bullseye’s mind! As you might expect, this is one superbly scripted and beautifully illustrated trip and one more piece of evidence to support the case that we’re being relieved of this series too soon. Blackman chucks us a rather neat curve ball when it comes to Elektra’s prize and then sets things up with one humdinger of cliffhanger which makes the grand finale a truly unmissable spectacle. Ever impressive in every comic book aspect, Elektra remains an undisputed pleasure to read. 9/10

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