6 Sept 2015

Mini Reviews 06/09/2015

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.

Writers: Jeff Lemire & Emi Lenox
Art: Emi Lenox & Jordie Bellaire
Image $2.99

Matt C: And Jeff Lemire once again captures the confusion, the alienation, the awkwardness and the joy of youth in his latest series, collaborating with newcomer Emi Lenox to create something that’s at once familiar but also reassuringly truthful and affecting. The creators introduce each of the cast with economy and efficiency, conveying their insecurities with confidence and believability. The central premise is strong, and even though we've seen this kind of idea done before (Powers, Stand By Me), Plutona feels different because there’s genuine emotional honesty in play, and Lenox proves she can capture wide-eyed innocence as well as her creative partner (who gets to fashion a back-up tale that takes an old school comic book approach to describing what happened to the titular superheroine in the very recent past). Coloured with the usual skill we’ve come to expect from Jordie Bellaire, Plutona is another of Lemire’s creator-owned books where he shows he implicitly understands that character is just as important – if not more so – than plot. 8/10

James R: My admiration of Jeff Lemire has been pretty well documented here in the past, so it should come as little surprise to regular readers that I loved this first chapter of Plutona. From Lester in Essex County, through Gus in Sweet Tooth, young Jack in The Underwater Welder, and most recently with Tim-21 in Descender, Lemire has a gift for capturing the idiosyncrasies of youth in his work. Plutona carries on that tradition, as we're introduced to our young cast, living the suburbs of Metro City. In just twenty three pages, Lemire deftly gives us an insight into the young friends, who discover the body of superheroine Plutona in the local woods. I was really reminded of the first issue of Sweet Tooth in reading this, as we see a number of motifs return: the focus on a character's eyes, the prevailing chain-link fence that acts as gateway to a forbidden world, and the reveal of an incongruous and mysterious adult at the book's climax. Plutona won me over immediately, and alongside Lemire's script, Emi Lenox and Jordie Bellaire's art gave the book a suitably youthful feel. The icing on the cake for me was the additional Plutona tale in the final pages, as Lemire writes and draws the backstory of the eponymous - now deceased - character. As with any matter of taste and opinion in life, we all have our favourites, and I'm happy to say that Jeff Lemire is undoubtedly one of mine. Once again he's crafted a book that grabbed me immediately, and has left me wanting more. 9/10

Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Jorge Coelho & Tamra Bonvillain
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Stewart R: I've had a good couple of weeks reading since our last set of Mini Reviews, but there's only been one comic book that has made me chuckle out loud due to its fine dialogue and great execution. John Flood #2 is that book and I must applaud Justin Jordan for what he's built here in such a short space of time. With the initial premise set up, Jordan has Flood and his new partner/minder, Berry, take up a new and brief mission... to find a missing cat. As strange as that sounds this entertaining escapade further solidifies Flood's ability to find patterns where others wouldn't - captured by Coelho in a decent double-page spread - while the grander, cat and mouse play of the super serial killer's chase begins to build. Entertaining and doused in a decent amount of suspense, I would suggest getting in on John Flood now as it looks like it's going to be a damn fine series on the strength of this. 9/10

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark & Santi Arcas
Image $3.50

James R: Effortlessly brilliant. It's almost getting ridiculous now. The Lazarus creative team have yet to turn in a bad panel, let alone a bad issue of this majestic series. After the last instalment's dramatic conclusion, Greg Rucka does a magnificent job of prolonging the tension here. Despite the fact that Forever Carlyle is effectively immortal, over the course of the issue there's a definite feeling that she might not be coming back. That's twinned with the ongoing political machinations as the Carlyle/Hock war rumbles on, and I find that as I read Lazarus I can't turn the pages fast enough, such is the level of intrigue. Once again, Michael Lark and Santi Arcas turn in wonderfully evocative art, and the creative team are so magnificently in synch I'm just left to wonder just how long this book can maintain such a level of quality. 'Ruddy ages' is both my hope and my conclusion based on nineteen fantastic issues and yet another great cliffhanger. 8/10

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Mark Waid’s final issue and – I hate to say this – it’s about time. When he first took over scripting the Daredevil title he breathed new life and a hint of positivity into a character that had become a byword for the bleak and morose. He had a great initial run but with a relaunch and a move to San Francisco there was a definite sense of things becoming more of struggle in the creative department, with neither the moments of originality or the reliance on old favourites really hitting the mark. It’s still been engaging, but this ‘final’ issue sees things wrapped up in a rushed and unlikely manner, giving the impression that the Secret Wars 'reboot' came along before Waid finished what he wanted to say with the character. I may be wrong with that assumption, but it all fell flat for me (although the art still hit a high standard). A title that has really been screaming out for new blood in the driving seat. 5/10

Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Art: Christopher Peterson & Marissa Louise
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Stewart R: The suggestion of sorts from Broken World is that the planet didn't go out with a bang as expected and the whimper comes from those left behind to try and find a way of surviving. Barbiere puts Elena smack dab in the middle of the two ideological groups trying to form a new life after the civilisation-altering event - one passive and peaceful, the other driven by old, militaristic ideals. It has worked to an extent up until now because Barbiere has kept the landscape sparse, the view into this world narrow and focussed, and Elena's greater motive to find and be reunited with her family as the driving force behind the plot. It does get a little muddy as the series draws to a conclusion however, as more emphasis gets put on bringing a close to the conflict between the rival camps and the focus shifts towards an open-ended future. I get what Barbiere has tried to do with Broken World and there's plenty of potential with the psychology of survivors left on a world they believed to be doomed, I just wish we'd had a bit more time for him to explore all of the interesting elements he played with or hinted at. 7/10

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Ryan Bodenheim & Michael Garland
Image $3.50

James R: With Jonathan Hickman, we're used to him playing the long game. Following his epic runs on both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers titles, and his creator-owned East Of West, he's proven to be the master of the slow burn. I'm all for this, so it's certainly a shock to read an issue that doesn't just shed light on the mysteries of The Dying And The Dead, it turn the floodlights on them. Here we learn nothing less than the secret history of the world (a perfect Hickman concept if ever there was one!). We see a meeting between the Axis leaders - Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito - and their discussion lets the audience know just who those mysterious alabaster denizens of the hidden city are: they're the immortal Baduri, and we discover just why they are so keen to reclaim the Bah al'Sharur. Ryan Bodheim's art is excellent as usual, and he's a great foil for Hickman's epic storytelling scope. The issue reminded me of Marvel's out-there alternative history of the world with the Celestials and the Inhumans, and I love all that stuff! Suffice to say I enjoyed this too and respect is due to Hickman for both apologising for the book's delay, and for his promise that it will return on a monthly basis in 2016. That made the first three issues feel like a huge prologue, and now the stage has been set, I'll certainly be back to see where this goes next year. 8/10

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