21 Sep 2015

Mini Reviews 20/09/2015

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.

TOKYO GHOST #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
Image $3.99

James R: Picking my book of the week was tough job. I enjoyed three comics an awful lot, but for very different reasons! I'm giving Tokyo Ghost the nod as I always like to support new titles, and for the magic of Sean Murphy. I think Murphy is an artist that elevates any book he's working on, and has the wonder talent of breathing life into the epic and to the intimate. In Tokyo Ghost, he goes all-out illustrating Rick Remender's L.A. dystopia, filling every page with a tangible mood and atmosphere, but the most memorable panels for me came at the end of the issue, where he fills a moment between our protagonists Debbie and Led with incredible poignancy. It's almost a cliché to say it, but if Murphy illustrated the phone book, I'd want to read it. As for Rick Remender's script, it's the explosive start that we've come to expect from him. There was definitely a 'Mega-City One' feel to proceedings, and a few nods to A Clockwork Orange, all of which added to the wild events that unfolded within the issue. I loved the idea of a society utterly immersed in technology and media to escape the nightmare the real world has become. I was also reminded of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash as I read (and that's a very good thing) but the conclusion of the issue, and on the preview page Remender states the book is going to "Shift in tone and focus every issue." How this will read as a whole remains to be seen, but this was a totally assured first issue from an all-star team. 8/10

Matt C: Another brisk, electrifying debut issue from Remender, this time employing the striking visual talents of Sean Murphy to produce a head-spinning, intense, magnetic read. Set in a future where most of the populace spend their days absorbed by technological, virtual distractions, Tokyo Ghost whips along in a similar fashion to Remender’s Black Science, barely allowing the reader to pause for breath, and when there is an opportunity for a pause, it’s to marvel at the intricate detail Murphy fills his imagery with. It’s exciting, exhausting and brilliant, another creator-owned win for the writer at Image, and another fine addition to my ever-burgeoning pull-list. 8/10

STAR WARS #9
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Stuart Immonen & Justin Ponsor
Marvel $3.99


James R: There was a moment about ten pages in to this issue, that I caught myself - I became aware that I was absolutely absorbed in the book, and once again, Jason Aaron made me believe this is Star Wars. I'm loving how he's keeping the different plot strands involving in their own way, but for me, Luke's pursuit of his stolen lightsaber - and what it leads him to - was pure fanboy joy. Credit is due to the art team of Immonen, Von Grawbadger and Ponsor - I think every artist Marvel have used on this book thus far have stepped up to the plate, and as I've said before, illustrating characters who have physical counterparts means that the art can jar sometimes, but here Immonen does a flawless job. With this and Greg Rucka's Shattered Empire, it means that I'm now regularly picking up two Star Wars books I really love - and that's a sentence I never thought I'd type a couple of years ago! Excuse the pun, but this book remains Jedi Masterful in every way. 8/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Tim Sale & Dave Stewart
Marvel $4.99


Matt C: A seven-year wait is a heck of a long time, and to be honest I hadn’t expected to ever see this series resurface, but even though my eagerness for it to continue had pretty much dissipated, I am still very fond of Loeb and Sales collaborations on Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Grey and Daredevil: Yellow, so there was never any question that I wouldn’t pick this up. The inflated price and higher page count provides us with the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with a reprinted Captain America: White #0 (which I remembered quite well considering the time that’s elapsed since I first read it), which probably only results in a price increase of a dollar, so nothing to get worked up about really. And the main story itself? It’s very good, a blast of nostalgia, thematically tied to the other series in that it also focuses on a defining relationship in the titular character’s life. Sale’s art remains as beautifully composed as ever, and it does make me realise how much I’ve missed seeing his work of late (where has he been?).  As an aside, the last time we saw the Loeb/Sale version of Cap, Chris Evans was still a couple of years away from being cast as the movie version of the Sentinel of Liberty! 7/10

THE FADE OUT #9
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $3.50


James R: This issue marks the start of 'Act Three' of The Fade Out, and it's masterful stuff from Brubaker and Phillips. It focuses on the fractious relationship between the two writers, Charlie and Gil. Their past was outlined in the first issue, but with this chapter, elements come into focus, and the world of Charlie Parish becomes all the murkier. Brubaker's skill has been to construct an enthralling mystery that embodies the attributes of the best noir tales. In each of those, there is a sense of tragic inevitability - as readers, we can sense how this may end, but the compulsion comes from watching characters and secret plots unravel. This issue absolutely crystallises that feeling, and it's (as always) beautifully illustrated by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser. It's a book that demands your full attention - and that you pay attention - and we should salute any comic that does that. A pitch-perfect and pitch-black noir in every respect. 8/10

LANDO #4
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Alex Maleev & Paul Mounts
Marvel $3.99


Matt C: It’s tremendous fun watching Lando getting deeper and deeper into hot water and suavely trying to manoeuvre himself back to safety; he always seems to have an endless supply of tricks up his finely tailored sleeves! Things are still not going according plan as the discovery of ancient Sith artefacts in the stolen Imperial yacht causes even more problems. There’s a rugged sleekness to Maleev’s art that I find most appealing, and Mounts manages to find a palate that suggest the Dark Side is all around once the secret chamber is opened and its secrets revealed. Soule revels in dabbling with the more unscrupulous side of the Star Wars universe, and although with one more issue to go it might be too early to make such a claim, I think this may just be the best Marvel Star Wars series yet. 8/10

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