27 Sept 2015

Mini Reviews 27/09/2015

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.

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

Matt C: Outside of the main Secret Wars miniseries, Weirdworld continues to make a very strong case for being the best book to spin out of the company-wide event. Aaron’s intense, twisty barbarian scripting is terrifically entertaining, with the writer clearly relishing the opportunity to slam some sword and sorcery tropes against rejigged variations of familiar Marvel characters (the ingenious Forest of the Man-Things, for example!). And then there’s the art. Del Mundo is on fire here, delivering a succession of frame-worthy images. There are some beautifully designed, intoxicatingly composed panels that draw you into their detail, and that cover’s a contender for the year’s best. It appears that this title will be relaunched as an ongoing under the ‘All-New, All-Different Marvel’ banner (with Sam Humphries taking over from Aaron) and Del Mundo’s art is making that a pretty promising proposition right now. 8/10

Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Art: Cameron Stewart & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: I was worried there for a second. Following a stunning opening, I felt Fight Club 2 was wobbling a little - issue #4 felt a bit too self-indulgent, featuring a sequence where Marla met Chuck Palahniuk. Now, I'm all for a touch of meta-narrative now and again, but when virtually every progressive comics writer has tried the same trick over the last twenty years, it felt a little stale. I needn't have worried too much, as issue #5 gets things nicely back on track. This chapter felt the closest yet in spirit to the original novel, as Project Mayhem embark on a homework assignment to vandalise some priceless works of art, while 'Sebastian' attempts to discover just where Tyler has taken his son. This issue worked extremely well as the concept of destroying or ruining art stands as a sharper meta-narrative than Palahniuk writing himself into the story (and we'll leave the question 'Does a comic sequel ruin a prose original?' for the end of the run!) The biggest difference for me between the comic and the original novel is the shift in narrative perspective - Palahniuk's books are normally first-person (and Sebastian's narration is still present here) but the very nature of reading a comic shifts the perspective to third person. This is where the greatness of Cameron Stewart comes in to play - every issue has looked fantastic, but his skill in switching between Sebastian, Tyler and Marla's perspective makes the shifts work beautifully. Once again, Fight Club 2 packed a mighty punch - Tyler truly lives! 8/10

Matt C: I think this series truly lost me last issue, when Palahniuk inserted himself, meta-stylee, directly into the narrative (albeit in a peripheral sense), which came across as unbearably self-satisfied rather than clever. I can’t shake that feeling in the latest instalment. I’m coming at this property as a fan of the movie rather than the novel, and maybe that puts me in a less authoritative position, but to me this is just treading water, barely making a strong case for continuing the storyline. Cameron Stewart’s art gets no negative criticism from me – it’s doing a fine job of capturing the schizophrenic emotional undercurrents – but some of the visual devices employed are starting to come across as a bit gimmicky. I had high hopes for this series but they're pretty swiftly disappearing, with disappointment taking their place. 5/10

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

James R: There's been a strange relationship between California and the dark arts for a while now. Aleistair Crowley's Golden Dawn set up a US base of operations in California in the 1930s, attracting such names as Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard to its ranks. Of course, the state also became the home to Charles Manson and Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible. It certainly seems like it was the home to the dark side of the Age of Aquarius, and I thought it was a fine choice of setting for Ales Kot's Wolf. I was uncertain after the first issue, encouraged by the second issue, but ultimately left underwhelmed after this third instalment. Given California's history, it seems a shame that Kot has decided to fall back on the old vampires-demons tropes for the plot. The greatest strength of the book is the art of Matt Taylor - not only does he supply a beautiful cover this month, but his work (along with Lee Loughridge's colours) give a lush sense of of mood and atmosphere. By the end of this issue though, I found that the prospect of (another) comics supernatural showdown wasn't enough to bring me back next month. What I said about Material also stands true here - I have no doubt Kot's got great potential as a writer, but he just needs the right book (and editor) to display it to its fullest. Sadly for me, Wolf isn't that title. 6/10

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