3 Jan 2016

Mini Reviews 03/01/2016

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: Three issues in and this is a keeper. It would be easy here to fall back on the ‘Greg Rucka knows how to write great female characters!’ line of praise but I think everyone’s fully aware of that now, and it should never become a thing that distracts from his excellent overall storytelling ability. So, rather than focus solely on how well written the lead character is, let’s take a moment to highlight Rucka’s brilliance in constructing character dynamics, as it’s not only the believability of Rowan Black that makes this series so compelling, but how she relates and interacts with her supporting cast. Nicola Scott’s beautifully composed artwork brings a naturalism to the proceedings, and the odd blast of colour from Chiara Arena helps remind us that we’re dealing with something that edges away from realism. I’m now firmly under this series’ spell. 8/10

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Art: Tim Sale & Dave Stewart
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Nope, there’s no reinvention of the wheel here, there’s nothing on the surface level that we haven’t seen a hundred times before, but, as with Loeb and Sale’s previous ‘colourful’ Marvel collaborations, it hits the exact spot it needed to. Cap, Bucky and the Howling Commandos battle the Red Skull and his Nazi forces in occupied Paris, and it plays out exactly as you would expect it to, but does so with the right level of warmth so that it works its magic in resounding fashion. There’s an element of nostalgia to all this, and Sales retro-tinged artwork certainly helps reinforce this effect, but it rises above rehash status due to the genuine nature of its emotional undercurrent. Don’t go looking for an illuminating look into Cap’s early years as that’s not what this is about; instead, this is an elegantly crafted reminder of the potency of not only the titular character, but also the pivotal relationship between this particular hero and his sidekick. 8/10

Writer: Greg Duggan
Art: Phil Noto
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Chewie’s always been a personal favourite of mine so it was disappointing to see that this miniseries wasn’t able to hit the high notes, even if it was somewhat inevitable. A central character unable to utter anything in a recognisable language is always going to be a tough nut to crack and Duggan goes the most sensible route by partnering him up with a human teen who gets to be our translator of sorts, but unfortunately neither her nor the story in general veer too far away from the formulaic. Noto’s art is rather splendid, invoking the warmth between the characters while not at the expense of the action, but otherwise this is one of the least necessary additions to Marvel’s Star Wars line since it launched at the beginning of last year. 6/10

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