31 Jul 2016

Mini Reviews 31/07/2016

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.

MECHANISM #1
Writer: Raffaele Ienco
Art: Raffaele Ienco
Image/Top Cow $3.99

Matt C: So let’s cut to the chase straight away: the art in this book is gorgeous. There’s an elegance to the rainswept imagery, the blasts of neon enhancing the photorealism throughout the post-apocalyptic setting. Thankfully the storytelling is up to the challenge of matching the visuals for impact, the idea of the silent observer watching over the remnants of the human race fighting back against the invading alien hordes a powerful one, asking when and how humanity can prove themselves worthy of saving. It’s not an original concept, having an A.I. confronted with both man’s qualities and deficiencies, but it’s deftly handled here and serves as a reassuring indicator of what’s ahead. 8/10

Stewart R: A new book from Top Cow, but something of an old tale if I'm honest. The setup is that a malevolent and dangerous force has emerged from the darkness to attack mankind and force them to find new forms of defence utilising technology. We get to meet an unsteady cop partnership and a retired veteran with a jaded and tragic past before the potential focus of the book is revealed in the shape of the (possibly) titular mech. Ienco does deliver some decent dialogue and narration as things unfold and his artwork is gloriously murky to set the tone, but the exposition within the script feels a little forced in places and despite the hint that the threat is large and widespread, the narrow focus on the cast fails to properly define the danger. Intriguing more than exciting and I'm not feeling convinced enough by this debut to see where that intrigue goes. 5/10

EAST OF WEST #28
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
Image $3.99

James R: The comics industry often likes to add the phrase 'A perfect jumping-on point for new readers!' in promotional material, keen to stress that a particular book will be easy to catch up with, thanks to a recap or a new arc. East Of West is the absolute antithesis of this; Hickman and Dragotta's epic now weaves together a dizzying number of plots and characters, and it's wonderful. After following the political machinations of the warring factions of America for a while, there is now a very tangible sense that this book is building to a finale, and the only thing that's guaranteed is that it will be breathtaking. I remain amazed at Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin's art in this series. After 28 chapters, I don't think there's been a single pedestrian issue, and Dragotta's skill at portraying a world that's both alien yet recognisable is remarkable. Since the debut instalment, Hickman's trademark white-out pages have warned us that the end is coming, and as it starts to take shape, it's looking every bit the modern classic it promised it could be back in 2013. 9/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #3
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Jesus Saiz & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Now the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, the edge has been taken off this storyline somewhat. Perhaps keeping the real reason for Cap’s Hydra-affiliation quiet for a while longer may have further stoked the online outrage flames, but potentially there would have been a benefit in having the mystery sustained for more than one issue. This is not to say that it’s no longer an interesting read as Spencer keeps things moving at a clip and the Red Skull scenes remain a highlight, but there’s a worry that too many cards have been laid on the table too quickly to capitalize on the early promise. 7/10

DIVINITY II #4
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn & David Baron
Valiant $3.99

Stewart R: There's been something a little magical about Kindt's handling of the Divinity story. He's produced characters with untold and untested power who could spell disaster for the planet or could be its salvation if the mood and situation took them, and he's pitted them against each other in order to highlight their very human qualities. Abram's compassion has been set against Myshka's determination and despite the fact that Myshka has been shown to be a threat, there's no good vs evil battle to be found here just a clash of perspectives. As the two fight it out amongst the scattered pages of a Dostoyevsky novel you realise that this is a very special look at how small and ineffectual even 'immense power' can be within the infinite expanse of space and time. What then truly matters is the will of the individual and the realisation that small actions - either of kindness or duplicity - can play far wider and stronger as the universe continues to spin. Yet another fine example from Kindt on how your write grand scale comics in a short-form series and I cannot wait for the threequel to arrive in December! 9/10

OLD MAN LOGAN #9
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino & Marcelo Maiolo
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Anyone who read Jeff Lemire’s work on the extraordinary Sweet Tooth, particularly how he handled the character of Jeppard, shouldn’t be surprised at the way the writer nail’s Logan’s grizzled but soulful persona. There’s an air of resignation about him but it’s tempered by his innate perseverance against the odds, a quest for some sort of justice in the world. Sorrentino’s searing artwork continues to astound, capturing that aforementioned grizzled soulfulness through a visual cocktail of brutality and dynamism, with Maiolo’s often subdued colouring bolstered by flashes of violent red. Considering Wolverine’s ubiquity over the years, it’s tempting to suggest that there’s nothing new to be said with this character, but Lemire shows here that’s very far from being the case. 8/10

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