15 Feb 2015

Mini Reviews 15/02/2015

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.

DARTH VADER #1
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Art: Salvador Larroca & Edgar Delgado
Marvel $4.99


Matt C: Because we’re told this is all in canon now, are we projecting onto it unwarranted importance or is it genuinely delivering exactly what we want from an in-continuity Star Wars comic? Well, I like to think that I’m not a complete numbskull without the mental capacity to formulate my own opinions, and I’m sure you’re not either, so with that in mind, when I say this is the second Star Wars book to deliver the goods in as many months, then then take it as gospel.  Going straight from the perspective of the Dark Side, this is Vader in the doghouse following the destruction of the first Death Star and, alongside some fine examples of Dark Side of the Force usage, we get to see the uneasy relationship between the Dark Lord of the Sith and his master, Emperor Palpatine, play out with noticeable tension, each shrouding their true intentions in secrecy.  Gillen pushes down his own distinctive voice to allow the iconic characters to come to the fore, which they emphatically do, and with Larroca going for detailed, semi-photorealistic style, this is a thoroughly convincing metaphorical peek behind that iconic mask. 8/10

DIVINITY #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn & David Baron
Valiant Entertainment $3.99


Stewart R: Blimey, Valiant are doing something to lure me back into their illustrated arms these days. First it was four-part event book, Valiant, which continues to enthral and entertain and now it seems that after just one issue Divinity has me locked in until the end. Kindt brings this space and time-faring story to the page in enigmatic style, giving us glimpses of one man’s past in the science-focused grip of Soviet-powered Russia and another man’s present in the baking wilderness of Australia as both are led on a journey fuelled by acceptance, but stemming from very different situations. I love the space-race feel to the opening half as we follow Abram Adams’ unique path through a secretive time for both his adopted country and the promising young man who tries to avoid the prying eyes of his superiors. I’ll admit that I found David Camp’s section of the issue to be a bit more bewildering - the events related to his situation and the subsequent, apparent hallucinating leaving a little doubt in my mind over what we’re actually supposed to be seeing from our observers' perspective - but when laid next to Abram’s journey I believe David’s role is yet to be clearly explained and the fun from Kindt will come with that reveal. The art team dig up the good stuff here to add further credence to the fact that Valiant are producing some of the most dazzling books on the stands these days and has me promising that I’ll be looking for the work of Hairsine, Winn and Baron on any other future projects. 8/10

SPIDER-WOMAN #4
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Frank D’Armata
Marvel $3.99


Stewart R: Dropping a debut to a series in the midst of a cross-title event like 'Spider-Verse' is debatably not the best way to kick things off. You have to bring readers up to speed with the overriding story from the event, make that interesting and engaging to people who may well not be picking up the main or associated books AND hit the ground running with your protagonist to make their involvement all important. I actually had my doubts that Spider-Woman would manage to keep me to the end of the opening arc, but here I am, greatly impressed with what Dennis Hopeless has delivered. In this issue - best left to read AFTER Amazing Spider-Man #14 if you are following continuity - Hopeless really gets to dig into who our 616 Universe Jessica Drew is, funnily enough by allowing her to draw comparisons with an iteration from another dimension. By using that old plot device he produces some solid character work, snappy dialogue and pushes Spider-Woman into a position where he can really start to shake things up and set her on her own path. Notably here, Hopeless is not afraid to tap on the fourth wall, serving up a rather fun third act which brings Jess home and alters the nature of her affiliation with the Avengers through honest conversation with Steve Rogers and chummy chat with Carol Danvers which pokes fun at the real world news surrounding Spider-Woman in the past few months. It’s all set against a chaotic scene that even has me hoping this writer gets a shot at an Avengers book one day. Everything is then left tantalisingly placed and now I just have to hope that the new direction, whatever it may be, hits the mark with me through #5 and beyond. 9/10

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #7
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jason Latour
Image $3.50


Matt C: So, the character who was ostensibly the main villain of the series  in the first arc is now the put-upon protagonist of the second arc as Aaron makes it abundantly clear that attempting to shove anyone in a box clearly labelled ‘Hero’ or ‘Villain’ isn’t going to work with Southern Bastards. The writer is etching out the history of Craw County, Alabama with a playful confidence, obviously not allowing us to place our allegiances anywhere, and by doing so he keeps us constantly on our toes. Latour continues to blast his visuals with bright reds, making things sizzle, as desperation, violence and stubborn determination all mangle together.  A masterfully conceived crime comic. 8/10

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