28 Feb 2016

Mini Reviews 28/02/2016

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: Warren Ellis
Art: Gerardo Zaffino, Antonio Fuso & Dan Brown
Marvel $3.99

James R: *Channelling the Duke in Escape From New York* "Karnak... I thought you were dead!" Let's face it, it's been a while. Four months, to be exact. Long-time comic readers have come to expect a somewhat elastic release schedule from Warren Ellis and whoever his artistic collaborators are, but after four months, the impact of Karnak's second chapter is somewhat blunted. In terms on content, it's another Ellis favourite - an issue that's largely an extended action sequence, as we see Karnak on the trail of the Inhuman boy kidnapped by I.D.I.C. Zaffino's art is brooding and beautiful, which makes it utterly jarring when Antonio Fuso takes over for the final pages. According to Axel Alonso, Zaffino has had personal "unforeseen complications" - whatever they are, I hope they're resolved soon as his art takes this book up several notches, and it would be a shame to see either the book fall further behind, or be taken over by an artist with less verve. As it is, it's great to have a new issue of Karnak, let's hope we're not waiting until June for the third instalment! 7/10

Matt C: After a wait of around four months, Karnak #2 arrives, and it was my fervent hope that its return would see Ellis knock things out of the park rather than deliver something that appears to be the very definition of lacklustre. Half the book is filled up with an extended fight scene, and it just comes off as decompression taken to the extreme – the art’s fine, but doesn’t quite justify the succession of wordless panels we get. There’s some juicy Ellis dialogue in there but overall this issue fizzles rather than sparkles. 6/10

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

James R: With just one issue remaining, unless issue #10 is an utter car crash, I think it's safe to put this series down as a success. There have been missteps along the way (I think, given that this is Chuck Palahniuk's first comics rodeo, that’s understandable) but as the narrative builds to a crescendo in this issue, there's so much to admire. Yet again Cameron and Dave Stewart have been in career-best form. The four-page sequence where Sebastian fights his son is a masterclass of visual storytelling, packed with emotion and kinetic energy. Palahniuk is clearly having fun too - his 'meta' appearances seemed a little clich├ęd in the earlier chapters, but as the story has unfolded, they've sat well within the narrative and as part of the idea that characters can survive beyond their readers (and authors). This is one of those series that demonstrates comics at their best - a medium where art and ideas are in perfect harmony, one which continues to challenge and surprise. Tyler lives indeed. 9/10

Writers: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello
Art: Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson

Matt C: I have no way of knowing who’s really in the driving seat here, but it’s pretty clear that Azzarello has helped fashion a more robust, propulsive narrative that doesn’t seem to be distracted by any of Miller’s more questionable current political views. The previous issue really made its case that this series was going to have more gusto than The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and while in some ways this instalment feels like it’s going for the safer option, with crazed Kryptonians causing havoc on Earth (again), given the context it manages to dodge overwhelming familiarity and remain engaging, throwing in another element for a cliffhanger to ensure the fourth chapter is an absolute must. Kubert, Janson and Anderson are doing a sterling work, with a clear determination to retain the visual aesthetic of the original, and while the packaging concerns remain, this is a far better proposition than I anticipated. 8/10

James R: In a week where we were denied our Image books *shakes fist in general direction of both weather systems and Diamond Shipping* I was pleased to have a blockbuster title to take the sting out of our loss. After the decidedly patchy first issue, DKIII has really hit stride, with Miller and Azzarello finding some excellent family dynamics to run alongside the tale of the Kandor death cult running amok. There's nothing particularly new or revolutionary in this series, but it is irresistible - as an old DC fan, I can't help but enjoy grandstanding scenes of Superman returning from a self-imposed exile, or Batman telling villains to go to Hell. It's another great display from the art team of Kubert and Janson too, with Kubert channelling the spirit of Miller without sacrificing his own style. Yet again, I can't stand DC's policy of shoehorning the mini-book in the middle of the issue - this month it interrupts one of the big dramatic moments! - but that aside, DKIII is far better than I anticipated or hoped it could be. 8/10

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