20 Dec 2015

Mini Reviews 20/12/2015

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.

SEX #26
Writer: Joe Casey
Artists: Piotr Kowalski & Brad Simpson
Image $2.99

James R: I've sat here for 10 minutes and tried to come up with an opening line that's not obviously rude, but what else can I say other than "Sex keeps getting better"?! This issue is another showcase for Joe Casey's strengths as a writer - in broad strokes, there's the synchronicity of a life ending as another begins, a truly eye-popping near-death experience, and Casey continuing to reinvent the Batman mythos, making a comic that's far more interesting than the current Bat-titles. As he has since the first issue, Piotr Kowalski does magnificent work on this book. I'd love to see Casey's script notes for some of these pages - 'The old man's head becomes a fragment of scenes from his life, whilst also including Saturn City as a vision of Hell' - but then look on in amazement as Kowalski manages to do this with style. This was one of those issues that truly could only exist as a comic, and I love that Casey continues to be a creator who both revels in the medium's conventions as well as pushing its boundaries. 9/10

Writer: Max Landis
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
DC $3.99

Matt C: The first instalment was really good but this one sees things step up a level. It's flat out brilliant! 17 year-old Clark is now Smallville's best kept secret - everyone in town knows that he's not quite like other kids but somewhere along the way there's been an agreement that this will never be revealed to anyone outside the local community. It's a little unfortunate that Mark Millar's current Huck is approaching this idea from a very similar angle, but at this stage Landis' wins out because a) he's using the real deal rather than a facsimile, and b) it's beautifully written, with genuine insight and emotion, as well as an unexpected sense of verisimilitude (Edwards moody artwork certainly emphasises this feeling). It's unlike any telling of the Superman mythos that we've seen before, and while it's unlikely to ever be considered canon, it's a fresh and somewhat unique take on the Man of Steel's upbringing. It's certainly the best issue of a Superman comic I've read in a good long while. 9/10

James R: I wasn't overly amazed with the first issue of American Alien, as (apart from the beautiful Nick Dragotta art) it hit a lot over very familiar moments from the Superman mythos, and seeing that Max Landis had promised something different, I felt a little short-changed. I'm extremely pleased to report that this second instalment is far more innovative and compelling, raising my expectations for the series as a whole. It focuses on Clark's teenage years, and a nasty, senseless crime that shatters the calm of Smallville. Landis' first smart move is to establish that a lot of people in Clark's Kansas home are aware that he isn't like normal folk. The town's Sheriff asks if there's any way that Clark can help shed light on the crime  and we see the consequences of Clark taking matters into his own hands. Landis' love for the character is evident here, and he does a terrific job of showing that powers and good intentions are not always enough to make a hero. Tommy Lee Edwards brings his usual class to the issue, infusing things with the requisite amount of darkness too. An absolute treat for us fans of the Last Son of Krypton. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: R.M. Guéra & Giulia Brusco
Image $3.99

James R: I'm aware that The Goddamned won't be everyone's cup of tea, but goddamn it, I'm really enjoying this. Jason Aaron, fresh from his recent crowning as our writer of the year, submerges us in a fallen world that is equal parts horrific and fascinating. Any readers that have ever enjoyed the Hyperborean exploits of Conan, or the raw shocks of Garth Ennis' Crossed, will feel at home with this title. There's something fascinating about setting a book that would normally be called 'post-apocalyptic' in an mythological era before recorded history. As an atheist, I certainly don't believe that there was a time where Cain rode on the back of a proto-dinosaur, but as a card-carrying comics geek, I can enjoy the hell out of it! Once again, the art team of Guéra and Brusco bring both a European sensibility to these pages and a sense of grime and dirt that stays with you long after you've finished reading. There really is no stopping Aaron at the moment - on his current form, I'd pick up a title on ponies and elves if he was writing it! 8/10

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