25 Oct 2015

Mini Reviews 26/10/2015

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: Gail Simone
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
DC/Vertigo $3.99

James R: I really wanted to like Clean Room. I have a huge amount of time and respect for Gail Simone, and I was excited to see that she was writing a 'Mature Readers' book. I was even won over by the pitch - a story that fused horror with a new-age religion that bears more than a passing resemblance to Scientology. Reading the first issue though, I have to report that Clean Room just didn't click for me. If anything, there's too much going on - Simone gives us a glimpse at the backstory of the mysterious Astrid Mueller, but then we're also told a lot about Chloe Pierce, our protagonist, haunted by demons of her own. Then there's Chloe's investigation into the Blue Utopians, the sinister self-help group at the heart of Clean Room. I felt the issue was so busy trying to be all things to all people - a character study, a detective tale, a horror story - that I'm not quite sure what it really want to be. The art from Jon Davis-Hunt is trademark Vertigo, deftly mixing the everyday with horrific. I'm sure that there's an audience for Clean Room, and this could blossom into something great, but by the last page I didn't have any desire to see where it's going. By no means a bad book, just not one for me. 5/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Gerardo Zaffino & Dan Brown
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: We’ve witnessed something of a Warren Ellis creative resurgence in comics recently following a relatively fallow period, and as well as various creator-owned material he continues to keep his hand in the Marvel Universe, albeit mostly in the fringes. Following a successful stint on Moon Knight he now turns his eye to the newly-resurrected Inhuman, Karnak. My knowledge of current goings on in the Inhuman world is limited at best but there’s always a sense with Ellis, especially when handling lesser known characters, that he bends them to suit his needs. And so Karnak comes across as a very ‘Warren Ellis’ protagonist: intelligent, aloof and in possession of a very unique skillset. It’s entertaining stuff, although it does feel like Ellis on autopilot for much of it (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and also includes his infuriating knack of finishing the issue mid-scene (fine for trade-waiters, no so much for the monthly crowd). Zaffino’s scratchy, shadowy artwork does what’s needed to set the tone for not just the mysterious titular Inhuman but also the world he inhabits, and while it’s not as strong a debut as Ellis’ Moon Knight #1, it does possess the kind of promise you’d hope for from the writer. 7/10

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Marco Checchetto & Andres Mossa
Marvel $3.99

James R: In a week where I got up at four in the morning to watch the new Force Awakens trailer (and loved every damn second of it!) my Star Wars anticipation-o-meter is off the charts! I eagerly opened up Shattered Empire this week as I felt that we were going to be given a juicy insight into the direction Episode VII is going to take - and maybe I should have known better. Lucasfilm/Disney are playing their cards very close, and Greg Rucka manages to give us just a tease of where Luke Skywalker might be at when we pick up the story 30 years later. As for the main narrative, it is a little repetitive - in the last issue, Leia needed Shara Bey for a secret mission... and now Luke does too! As before though, the book deftly weaves touchstones from the Prequels and the Original Trilogy, and even though I can't say I've been totally won over by Checchetto's art, it's certainly looked nice enough. All told, a neat bridging title for us Force nuts. Now to find some other way to pass the time before December 17th... 7/10

Matt C: Well, that was a weird ending. I'm wondering what remit Greg Rucka was given when he was offered this series, because while it’s a very competently handled excursion into the Star Wars Universe, viewed as a whole it’s all been a tad bitty and, confusingly, seems like it may have been designed just to embellish some plot points in The Force Awakens. Assuming they involve a tree, that is. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Shattered Empire, but after four issues I expected some sort of clear arc or thematic thread to latch on to. It’s fine, but not as essential as it could have been, more like a loose succession of post Return Of The Jedi events hung rather awkwardly on the parents of one of The Force Awakens main characters. 6/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Mike Del Mundo
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: A thunderously exciting finale, with Aaron conjuring up sentences like “…I suddenly find myself… too damn angry to die. But not to kill.” and “My ears fill with screams. My face is dripping with blood that isn’t mine.” while Del Mundo blasts out some deliriously energetic visuals, culminating in one hell of splash page that lets your draw drop to the floor without any resistance. It’s a great issue with one problem, that being that it has to tie back into the explosive end of Secret Wars (and we haven’t reached yet, lest we forget!) which is infuriating because it doesn’t allow the tale to resolve itself in its own terms. Fortunately Aaron has a decent twist up his sleeve that compensates fairly well, and when Weirdworld does start as an ongoing later this year, his presence will be sorely missed. 8/10

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