23 Aug 2015

Mini Reviews 23/08/2015

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: Jason Aaron
Art: Stuart Immonen & Wade Von Grawbadger
Marvel $3.99

James R: After last issue’s excellent Obi-Wan flashback, we're back to the main narrative in Star Wars. Normally in my reviews I know I'm guilty of primarily focusing on writers, so I want to put this right by talking about Stuart Immonen's fantastic artwork - it's tough drawing comics that are based on actual people as either it can be jarring for the readership if the representations look nothing like the them, or at the other extreme, it's too 'photoreal' and therefore doesn't feel natural. Immonen avoids these pitfalls with aplomb, illustrating pages which are unmistakably Star Wars. It's a tough gig following John Cassaday, but as amazing as his work was on the book, I have to say I like Immonen's more. The plot is, as we've come to expect from Jason Aaron, well-paced and neatly sets up the rest of the arc. This is now the longest I've ever read a Star Wars book for, and with this creative team I can see me being on board for the duration. 7/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Having shown himself to be the master of hardboiled Southern crime, exuberant space opera and mythological superheroism (amongst other things), Jason Aaron is now displaying a concise understanding of the sword and sorcery genre. To be fair, there are a lot elements here that he’s played around with through his work on the various Thor books, but this leans further into straight up barbarianism, albeit with a more off-kilter tinge than is the norm. With Aaron sending the title’s protagonist, Arkon, across an ever-shifting environment, artist Del Mundo has plenty of weirdness to work with, and boy, does he rise to the occasion! Vibrant, intense and relentlessly dynamic, it’s a veritable showcase for his talents and an all-round marvellous visual experience. I’ve not checked them all out (not by a long shot) but even so, my bold claim is that this is probably the best miniseries to spin out of the Secret Wars event. 9/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
Image $2.99

James R: A change is clearly as good as a rest - Warren Ellis took a break from comics in 2011 to focus on his prose novels and since his return to the visual medium he's been on great form. I'm loving his other Image series, Injection, but I'm simply amazed at Trees. Since its first issue, Trees has constantly confounded my expectations and continues to surprise. The main reason for this has been the sheer breadth and variety of Ellis' narrative. This is a truly globe-spanning book, and it's been wonderful to see how the story adheres to Philip K. Dick's maxim of 'building a universe that doesn't fall apart two days later'. Ellis gives us a fully-realised world, and has filled it with character arcs that are terrifically unpredictable. In this issue we're with NYC mayor-elect Vincent as he continues his political machinations, and Dr. Siva, still investigating the mysterious black poppies that caused the destruction of her Norwegian research base. It all looks fantastic too thanks to Jason Howard's pitch-perfect art and colours, which give the narrative a sense of realism whilst also being set '5 minutes in the future’. Lots of narratives across different media can be eye-rollingly predictable, but after twelve issues of Trees, this comic still astonishes me. 8/10

Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Wil Quintana
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: After such a strong debut it’s here that the decision to make this a two-part series - while other Secret Wars tie-ins get four or five issues to tell the their tale - becomes highly questionable. Because, yes, things do seem incredibly rushed. There’s still a lot to like – the Judge Dredd analogues, the newly-formed superhero team springing out of Yinsen City – but there’s a definite desire to get to the finish line at the expense of more defined character work and narrative clarity. The way things get wrapped up happens far too quickly and implausibly, and while the art team still deliver (although perhaps not to the same level as issue #1?) there’s a real sense of a missed opportunity by not allowing this story to breathe a little more. 6/10

Writer: Ales Kot
Art: Matt Taylor & Lee Loughridge
Image $3.50

James R: Having given Ales Kot a bit of a kicking over his pretentiousness-fest that is Material I feel I have to give credit where due and report that Wolf sees him playing to his strengths. In its debut issue, we noted the similarities to both Hellblazer and Desolation Jones - those similarities remain, but this second chapter sees Kot finding the groove of the book. Both Antoine Wolf and Freddy Chtonic get more rounded out as characters, and we're introduced to a sinister plot within a private prison. Following the giant-sized first issue, which if anything felt too sprawling, this is far more focused and a better read as a result. I'm also enjoying Matt Taylor's art which finds a nice blend between the light and dark elements of this plot. It's not quite the finished article, but I'm impressed enough to stick with Wolf for the first arc at the very least. 7/10

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