16 May 2016

Mini Reviews 15/05/2016

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.

THE DARK & BLOODY #4
Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Art: Scott Godlewski & Patricia Mulvihill
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Stewart R: This series has been bubbling along rather nicely as Aldridge has set about outlining just what ghastly horror stalks Iris and his family since his return from Iraq along with the horrors that he faced 'over there'. The key to The Dark & Bloody's success is the small cast; there's no needless crowd gathering and everyone who appears on the page has a part to play. It's all very intimate which makes the brooding darkness oh so very palpable as the danger gets ever closer to Iris' home and family. Godlewski puts in yet another top grade effort as the script calls upon him to finally depict the threat in all its glory and the tension through scenes of chaos work tremendously well thanks to his storyboard precision and great touch for viewpoint and framing. Where we go from here is anyone's guess, but you can safely bet that the destination will be as the title describes and gloriously so! 9/10

VISION #7
Writer: Tom King
Art: Michael Walsh & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Now we’ve reached the halfway point, and before writer Tom King begins the sprint to the finish line, he takes as back into the past, using the various pivotal events in the Vision’s often bizarre history to help us understand how he got to the point we found him at in the debut issue of the series, and unsurprisingly, the Scarlet Witch factors into the proceedings in a major way. It’s a device that’s often used in comics, delving backwards to find pointers towards the future, but King exudes such confidence in his writing at this point that it proves to be engaging and illuminating. Guest artist Michael Walsh captures the general weirdness of the relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch nicely, finding some real emotion in their tumultuous dynamic.  Another terrific instalment of the best book Marvel are currently publishing. 9/10

JUPITER'S CIRCLE VOLUME 2 #6
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Wilfredo Torres, Ive Svorcina & Miroslav Mrva
Image $3.99

Stewart R: So this look back at the Utopian's past, and those other superpowered friends around him draws to a close as we get ever nearer to the return of Jupiter's Legacy in the not-too-distant future. I'll admit that parts of this story have been well written as Millar has woven these tales of superheroics into the fabric of history, offering alternative looks at defining events and politics of the last century skewed by the presence of enhanced beings who are just as much affected by the daily pressures and issues that affect the normal men and women around them. Here he takes us back to the perspective of the Utopian's first wife, Jane, who struggles to deal with her relationship with the 'perfect' man. So caught up is Sheldon in making sure she's happy 100% percent of the time - outside of his life-saving duties - that he never questions whether too much happiness could be a bad thing for a person or that his example is too much to live up to, or alongside. It's an interesting look at the emotional needs of individuals and couples and it generally works well. What doesn't feel quite right is the location and plot hopping that goes on to shore up the ending to this series as Millar takes the briefest of looks at all of the cast, the current states of their lives and having finally dug through to the heart of the Utopian simply throws Lady Liberty at him and pretty much says 'well that's how that happened'. Jupiter's Circle has once again been an example of Millar wanting to look at intriguing 'what ifs' through his ability to bring new perspectives to known comic book tropes, but ultimately not having/spending the time to fully invest in the idea and leaving the final product feeling a touch under-cooked and abbreviated as a result. 6/10

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #14
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jason Latour
Image £3.50

James R: One of the things we comics fans often say here at the PCG is "I had to go back and re-read the previous issues...I couldn't remember what was happening!" This is the nature of reading a serialised story amidst a whole slew of other serialised tales - what's happening and why can sometimes get lost. One comic where this is absolutely, definitely not the case is the majestic Southern Bastards. Back in September 2014, the two Jasons completed the first arc of Southern Bastards with a properly jaw-dropping and unexpected finale, showing that the man we had come to believe was the book's protagonist, was anything but, and as a result Earl Tubb's death was one of the memorable moments of the year. That death was tempered by an equally powerful reveal, that Earl had a daughter in the armed forces, and it was only a matter of time before she'd make an entrance. This week, Roberta Tubb finally takes centre stage, and as usual with Southern Bastards, it is totally worth the wait. In every issue of the 'Homecoming' arc, Aaron gives a masterclass of storytelling and characterisation, enabling us to get to know 'Berta, and leave us wanting to see just how she's is going to fit in to the grand narrative of Craw County. Still as good as mainstream comics gets, Southern Bastards is simply unforgettable. 9/10

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