26 Jun 2016

Mini Reviews 26/06/2016

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.

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Liam Sharp & Laura Martin
DC $2.99

Matt C: So here I am declaring a Wonder Woman comic as my book of the week, and while that’s not exactly an endorsement of Rebirth as a whole, it’s encouraging in its own way. Basically it’s Greg Rucka selling me on this thing; I’ll be honest and admit I don’t entirely know what’s going on here beyond what was alluded to in Wonder Woman: Rebirth issue but I sort of get the gist of the general direction its headed (I think!). Thanks to Rucka’s smart, engaging characterization and organic build-up of the plotting I’m eager to see what comes next, and Liam Sharp’s robust visuals alongside Laura Martin’s adept colouring means this a striking book to look at. Visually strong and written with intelligence and verve, this is positioning itself as the frontrunner of the Rebirth pack with relative ease. 8/10

Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Garry Brown & Dave McCaig
Image $3.99

James R: There is something endearing about a big, tough and seemingly heartless bastard as a character. You only need to look at the joy from Game Of Thrones fans (myself included) when a certain character was recently revealed to have survived death. Despite being a pitiless murderer, you can't help but root for him, and the same goes for Magnus the Black, the protagonist of Black Road. This was the issue of the series where things clicked into place for me, and reminded me of Wood at his best. Following two issues heavy on atmosphere and explosive with violence, this chapter gave us the explication as to what lies at the end of Magnus and Julia's trek north. It's also a magnificent display from Garry Brown and Dave McCaig; their art is moody and epic in this issue. At the start of this series, I didn't know if this would see the Norsefolk inspiring Wood to be at his best again, or to be a continuation of the less than impressive final arcs of Northlanders. On the strength of this issue, and what's to come next, it certainly looks like the former. 8/10

Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessey & Gabe Eltaeb
DC $2.99

Stewart R: Well, this is a strong start indeed from Abnett, Walker and Co, albeit one that feels as if we're perhaps not getting anything new just yet. Arthur and Mera's relationship is superbly captured in the opening few pages, their comfort with and compassion for each other clear to see in fine dialogue and some subtle body language work from Walker. As the wider story involving an Atlantean embassy and the inevitable violent fireworks flare up, it can't help but feel a touch familiar and predictable, yet Abnett manages to make things interesting with some tasty character work in and amongst the supporting cast. He does this so well that you may even take an emotional hit to the gut before the last page is turned and that's credit to his skill for delivering memorable personalities in such a short space of time. The book looks amazing with Walker on top, top form and providing that the plot can offer up some interesting ideas in coming issues and avoid running into cliché too often this could prove to be one of the big wins of the Rebirth project. 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Chris Bachalo & Various
Marvel $3.99

James R: I have enjoyed Doctor Strange since Aaron and Bachalo became the stewards of the Sorcerer Supreme, and this issue is no different - considering that my Marvel pull-list consists of three titles these days, I may not be able to give the most rounded view, but this title embodies the original Marvel spirit for me. Doctor Strange is a book that shares DNA with Aaron & Bachalo's run on Wolverine And The X-Men in that it's the perfect mix of fun, invention and a sleek script. Aaron keeps the story bubbling over, here making what would normally be a standard 'rally the troops' issue into a meditation on sacrifice, as well as featuring a ruddy huge monster. Credit once again must go to beautifully inventive pencils of Chris Bachalo, and his beguiling colouring (with assistance from Java Tartaglia). It looks good, it's a joy to read, and it remains the perfect balance of light and shade. 8/10

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Benjamin Dewey & Jordie Bellaire
Image $2.99

Matt C: I never want to be anything less than complimentary about this series because I’m fully supportive of this premise and where the creative team are taking it, but, well, it is starting to feel like it’s meandering a little. I stress the words ‘a little’ as there’s no insinuation here that the book has lost its direction, it’s just that it’s little less punchy than it has been. There’s still plenty of anthropomorphic brilliance mixed up with sword-wielding profanity on display, and it’s certainly not a boring read by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just pining for the not-so-distant days where finishing an issue of The Autumnlands would be accompanied by a feeling of elation. I expect normal service to be resumed in due course but when the release schedule of a title isn’t as consistent as it should be, it’s somewhat disappointing when an issue is merely good instead of great. 7/10

DEPT. H #3
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Matt Kindt & Sharlene Kindt
Dark Horse Comics $3.99

James R: Three issues in to Dept. H, I'm still really enjoying the murder mystery fathoms deep, but it is lacking the innovative spark that represents Matt Kindt at his best. In this issue, one disaster follows another as Mia's desperate attempts to rescue her brother are hampered by a number of catastrophic events in the station. I imagine Kindt wanted to establish a relentless pace in this issue, and whereas that's admirable, I found that it was a little too quick - as we're still learning who the possible suspects in the murder of Hari Hardy are, there's a fine balance between backstory and forward momentum. Whereas I felt Kindt hit that groove perfectly in the first two issues, it was slightly out here. It looks as luscious as always, and it was still a great read, but with a bar set really high, this was a chapter lacking the magic of the first two. 7/10

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