27 Apr 2015

Mini Reviews 26/04/2015

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.

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge
Image $3.50

Stewart R: We appear to be living in an age where stories that once would likely be limited to the illustrated page are now no longer 'too crazy' to make the transition to a televisual media. The way that Remender and Craig have been depicting the utterly bonkers and bruisingly bloody events of Deadly Class, with perfect pacing and great action, makes me think this could accomplish the jump with relative ease. The biggest success of this series however, is proving to be the emotionally charged interactions that Remender is sowing betwixt all the carnage. The teenage angst and heartbreak that is surrounding Marcus as he bumbles back and forth between Saya and Maria has raised the lethal antics to another level. Here it plays even better as Maria's past catches up with her and the gang and one hell of a shitstorm unfolds. It's an incredibly tense read and the big surprise is just how often that gets said when talking about this series. Consistent excitement. Consistent quality. Consistently unmissable. 9/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: John Cassaday & Laura Martin
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I’m having such fun with this book, more so than I have with any other Star Wars comic for a good long time.  There’s a lingering worry that it will – along with the other books in the line – start relying too heavily on familiar faces to generate story material rather than coming up with new characters and new situations, but at this stage I’m prepared to expect the best case scenario. It helps that Aaron is channelling the freewheeling, banter-laden approach of A New Hope alongside Cassaday’s splendid illustrations, which skirt near a photorealistic take without straying far away from his trademark style. It doesn’t appear to quite overlap with the Darth Vader series seamlessly but that’s a minor quibble for what is overall a very welcome, authentic take on the galaxy far, far away. 8/10

James R: Sometimes, it's the little things. I've enjoyed every issue of Jason Aaron's Star Wars so far, and this one is no exception. But what made me break out in a fanboy grin was this: he gets Jabba's laugh right! In my decades - decades, Crom! - as a Star Wars fan, if asked to do a Jabba the Hutt impression (admittedly, a rare occurrence, but it does happen!) it will always feature the vile gangster's 'HO HO HO HO!' Therefore it was hugely satisfying to see Jason Aaron incorporate it into his dialogue here. In terms of the book as a whole, he's still finding the right balance of giving us an authentic Star Wars 'feel' while also using our knowledge of these iconic characters to add telling layers to the plot. Vader's return to his home of Tatooine, Luke losing his temper during lightsaber practice - these scenes work in their own right, but for a Star Wars fan, it's a solid win. John Cassaday continues to be back to his best in these pages, and Laura Martin's colours perfectly evoke the feel of the Original Trilogy. I haven't been won over by any of Marvel's other Star Wars titles, but this one remains an absolute treat in my pull-list. 8/10

Writer: Lee Bermejo
Art: Lee Bermejo & Matt Hollingsworth
Vertigo $3.99

Stewart R: What I thought was going to be primarily a gladiatorial series is really turning into something far darker and more interesting instead. The idea of the 'Suiciders' deathmatch TV show just buzzes along in the background as the mob, corruption and murder-mystery plots form the main focus. Bermejo has conjured a world with very few benevolent individuals to be seen and even those who the reader may warm to are quite damaged with plenty of blood on their hands. This issue gets divided between The Saint's spiralling problems as his attempts to rebel against his corporate handlers have lethal repercussions, and the Lost Angeles-based, protection-racket antics with our soon-to-be Suicider muscle. Both prove to be bloody affairs, Bermejo's skill with pencil and ink setting some powerful and brutal imagery upon the page and Hollingsworth nailing the contrast between settings. I'm enjoying the way Bermejo manages to imbue our bearded protagonist with a terrific sadness which plays well against his outbursts of raw rage, and while I'm not entirely sure just how long and far his story will run amongst these shifting plot threads it's going to certainly be fun to find out. This is proving to be another win for Vertigo. 8/10

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Barry Kitson & Chris Sotomayor
IDW $3.99

Matt C: Empire first appeared back in 2000 under the Gorilla Comics imprint, impressing everyone who picked it up, before disappearing until 2003 when DC continued the story for six issues. There was no conclusion and it looked like it would be one of those ‘lost’ projects we always bemoan the absence of, but then – miraculously - a decade later Mark Waid’s Thrillbent enterprise began the next chapter of the tale, and now in 2015 we finally have it in a tangible comic book format again. I haven’t actually revisited the original books since 2004 so there was perhaps a need for a ‘Previously on…’ type refresher, but having said that, the story of a Doctor Doom-esque supervillain finally achieving his dream of world conquest and the challenges he faces in sustaining his rule, remains as arresting as it did 15 years ago. It’s questionable whether it will appeal to new readers but for those who were there at the start, it’s a reassuringly smart and brutal return. 7/10

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Matt Kindt
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: The cover declares that this is the final arc, but the pages within aren't full of conclusions and of a story winding down. This series continues to be utterly vibrant and endlessly inventive. Matt Kindt does his usual phenomenal job of ramming the issue with ideas and stories from the Mind MGMT agency. The central plot sees Duncan and Perrier attempting to recruit other former agents to join them in a final stand against the Eraser. Unfortunately, every agent on their list has already been visited by their enemy, and the story becomes a constant dash for escape. It's equal parts funny, creepy and whip-smart as always. I'm delighted to see Kindt doing more and more mainstream work (and I'm also enjoying his Divinity series for Valiant) but there's a definite alchemy in each instalment of Mind MGMT. It's been my favourite book for the last three years, and I'm delighted that it's showing no signs of slowing down. It's a modern classic in my eyes, and mainstream comics at their best. 9/10

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