1 Nov 2015

Min Reviews 01/11/2015

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: Greg Rucka
Art: Nicola Scott & Chiara Arena
Image $3.99

Matt C: Tell me there’s a book coming out called Black Magick and I’d probably say something along the lines of, “Nah, not my thing.” Tell me it starts with a Wiccan ritual in a forest and I’d double down on that sentiment. Tell me Greg Rucka’s the scribe behind the book and I’d instantly change my mind and make a commitment to check it out. This is the guy currently scripting my favourite ongoing series, Lazarus, after all. And, proving his talent extends to making me engage with a genre I’m not generally susceptible too, I found myself really enjoying this. It’s anchored by another of Rucka’s strong female leads: Detective Rowan Black, who juggles her fulltime job as a cop with her other passion, witchcraft. After the opening scene, it takes on more of a tough cop drama angle - which Rucka does very well (Gotham Central!) - but there are hints of the supernatural running throughout. Nicola Scott’s artwork displays a confidence and an emotional clarity that is hugely impressive in grayscale, the bursts of colour achieving the required impact when they appear. The fact that the creative team have me excited about a pitch I would usually pass on bodes very well indeed for future instalments and the series as a whole. 8/10

James R: Having produced pure magic with his last creator-owned series for Image (the majestic Lazarus) I was excited to see if Greg Rucka could do it again with Black Magick. I am more reticent about this book, as traditionally horror books aren't really my thing - I find it needs to be truly exceptional to rise above the cliché. On first impressions though, it's certainly off to a great start. Rowan Black seems to be living a double life as both a police detective and as the latest in a three-century lineage of witches. The first issue largely focuses on a hostage negotiation which has some predictably dark overtones, but certainly left me wanting to know more about Black's two worlds. Nicola Scott's art here is striking - the black-and-white painted pages give the feel of a 1940s movie, and when the action is infused with colour, it adds a real sense of drama. All told, I didn't immediately love Black Magick the same way I did Lazarus, but it's certainly an arresting debut, and I will definitely be back for issue #2. 8/10

Writer: Greg Weisman
Art: Pepe Larraz & David Curiel
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I like this series quite a bit, especially now the new season of Star Wars Rebels is referencing Kanan’s past as a Jedi apprentice who witnessed the aftermath of Order 66, but I have to say that this was a weaker instalment. There was something off when the weird medical-droid-with-an-attitude appeared, but cameos from some Jedi heavy-hitters distracted from what was by far the most interesting aspect of the issue (and arguably the most interesting aspect of the series as a whole so far): the relationship between Caleb Dume (Kanan’s original name) and his master, Depa Billaba. It’s a readable chapter, and a well-illustrated one, but overall feels a bit watered down when it comes to gaining a greater understanding of how Kanan Jarrus came to be. 6/10

Writer: Chuck Palahniuck
Artists: Cameron Stewart & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: This is the issue where Chuck Palahniuck really starts to play with the Fight Club mythos. Since we were first introduced to Tyler Durden *gulp* at the end of the twentieth century, the character has become synonymous with a Bacchus-like spirit of wild frenzy and destruction. This week, Palahniuck suggests that he's not just the dark side to Sebastian's fractured mind - he's an archetype, an idea that survives from infecting one generation after another. This is wild idea from Palahniuck, and I have to give him respect for playing around with his most iconic creation so much. Does it work? It's a little too early to say - I'll consider it again when the story is complete. However, it does show that the author is willing to take a risk. In other places, there's a worrying trend of resurrecting characters who died in the original. Palahniuck may be jabbing fun at mainstream comics here (where dead never really means dead) but I can't help but fear that there's as much rehash here as there is innovation. In terms of art, it's another triumph for Cameron and Dave Stewart - every issue has been exceptional, and this one is no different. All told, I'm still loving it, but I'm hoping for a suitably explosive finale. 8/10

Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artists: Howard Porter & Hi-Fi
DC $3.99

James R: DC's Superman titles are still continuing to be unpredictable and interesting. Over the last few weeks, I've heard a lot of great things about Justice League, which has made me consider picking it up for the first time since issue #7, and with both this title and Action Comics, dare we believe that DC is slowly getting its act together? In this issue, the reduced-powered Superman finds himself involved in an illegal underground fighting tournament for people with superpowers. See, told you it was unpredictable! With Kal-El on the run, short on cash and trying to discover out who is responsible for his weakened state, he finds himself in the arena, in Oakland of all places. Part of me thinks that this shouldn't work, but at the same time, I can't help but enjoy it. Yang has at least tried to do something different with the Man of Steel, and even though I think he doesn't quite get Superman's voice quite right (his loss of power seems to have made him 20% denser too) this continues to be an entertaining read. Howard Porter's art handles the big action scenes well, and while I have no doubt that we'll see a return to the 'Traditional' Superman around issue #50, I'll stay with it as long as it continues to embrace the different. 7/10

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