19 Jun 2016

Mini Reviews 19/06/2016

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.

HAN SOLO #1
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Art: Mark Brooks & Sonia Oback
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: The true, ultimate key to making a decent Star Wars tie-in comic is the script and the dialogue. Sure the visuals do play a part in dropping the reader into that galaxy so very long ago and a hop, skip and jump away, but if the characters don't sound like they ought to belong in that universe it can be a jarring experience. Charles Soule nailed it in his Lando miniseries and now I can confirm that Marjorie Liu has hit the mark in Han Solo #1. Every line that Han has here sounds like it would come out of the shifty, smuggler's mouth - and sound like Harrison Ford in the process. The caginess, the bravado, the arrogance, they are all there and all pitch perfect. It's not just Han, with Leia's prickly, yet compassionate manner there to see and even newcomer, General Airen Cracken, sounds like he belongs (if perhaps his clunky name doesn't sit well in the mind). The plot also feels on point, sliding in between the events of Episode IV and V very comfortably indeed, to the point where you wonder if we might hear the term 'Ord Mantell' before the series reaches a conclusion. At the start of the review it seemed that I dismissed the visuals to a secondary concern, but when Mark Brooks gets an interior job you KNOW that the book will be a gorgeous sight and Han Solo #1 delivers the familiar visual punch that the Star Wars Universe is known for, at once fresh and intriguing, yet incredibly familiar. A great start and there's easily 12 Parsecs of running in this series' legs based on this opener (it's a measurement of distance, don't cha know!?) 9/10

Matt C: Although Harrison Ford may have now left the role he helped make iconic behind him, we’re far from seeing the last of Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich has been cast as science fiction’s most famous scoundrel for the forthcoming prequel movie, and the character is central to the flagship book of Marvel’s Star Wars line, so it was inevitable he would get his own book sooner rather than later. It’s always tricky to capture Ford’s swagger on the printed page, but much in the same way that Jason Aaron seems to have cracked it, Marjorie Liu looks like she got an ear for his cocksure patter too. There’s a sense of fun running though this opener that’s exactly what’s required. It’s an adventure tale, and while it may be ‘throwaway’ in the grand scheme of the Saga, it’s not any less entertaining because of it. Brooks’ art is vibrant and detailed, getting the characters’ likenesses down without going into distracting attempts at photorealism. Han Solo is definitely worth smuggling onto your pull-list. 8/10

BATMAN #1
Writer: Tom King
Art: David Finch, Matt Banning & Jordie Bellaire
DC $2.99

Matt C: So finally we get to see what Tom King can do when he’s given the keys to the Batcave and what he does do is show us that he has a keen grasp of how to reinvigorate the Dark Knight again by adeptly and effectively displaying the character’s skills as a superhero, but doing so in a way that’s thrilling and exciting, before opening things up for the forthcoming arc. If you’re looking for striking originality in a character that has a publication history stretching back nearly eight decades then obviously you’re not going to find that here, but if you’re looking for some fine writing and illustration that doesn’t feel bogged down by those eight decades but rather is emboldened by them, then you’ve come to the right place. As long as that remains the case then this title has a real opportunity to prosper once more. 8/10

LOW #14
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini & Dave McCaig
Image $3.99

Matt C: There’s something wonderfully operatic about this title with its bold emotional content and the large canvas it operates on. There’s a powerful melodramatic undercurrent to a lot of Remender’s work but perhaps it resonates more in Low due to the optimism that burns at its core. That isn’t to say that things aren’t cut through with darkness, because various characters are really put through the wringer, but there’s a sense of hope that lingers longer and propels the narrative forward. Tocchini’s sumptuous art and McCaig’s bright, expressive colours help to make this an enveloping experience as well as a rewarding one. A dystopian tale that’s thrives on the potential for a better tomorrow. 8/10

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