30 Oct 2016

Mini Reviews 30/10/2016

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 VISION #12
Writer: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

James R: It’s been a week where it has been frankly depressing to be a comics fan - the immature and unenlightened treatment of Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain by a section of online 'fandom' made me despair at how backward and myopic some comics readers are. For all the talk of this being an era in which comics have conquered the mainstream, it's events like that which make me realise we still have a long way to go. But then, like a shining yang to the Mockingbird controversy yin, along comes the final issue of The Vision and it caps what has been one of the most remarkable series of the decade. We here at the PGC have been vocal supporters of this book, and seeing that this is the final issue, there's not much new to add - King's script, Walta's art and Bellaire's colours are all majestic here, and this coda is both touching and surprising in a way few other mainstream comics are. Obviously, it's book of the week and I wouldn't be surprised to see it feature in the Paradoscars in December. It's interesting that Marvel's best books of the last few years have been when creators have been given free rein to reinvent, or reinterpret a character (Immortal Iron Fist, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight spring readily to mind) and it seems that it is books like these that the online trolls want less of. They should be proved wrong at every opportunity, so pick up The Vision, and let's hope Marvel continue to take gambles like this. 10/10

Matt C: I don’t think there was ever any worry that Tom King would suddenly drop the ball on this magnificent series for its finale, and so, unsurprisingly, it ends on the same level of brilliance as it began, providing more than sufficient confirmation that it’s one of the finest tales to have been told in the Marvel Universe this century. The sacrifice that’s central to this closing chapter enhances the air of tragedy that's permeated throughout the whole series, the genius of it being that the emotional impact is generated via characters who allegedly experience no relatable human feelings at all, and are, supposedly, ‘faking it’. Walta and Bellaire have conjured up some imagery that expertly conveys the subtleties of King’s script, drawing the pathos to the surface so it’s almost tangible. This is why I’ll never quit superhero comics: every time rehashes and lazy clichés seem to be winning out something special will come along to prove the ongoing validity of the genre. The Vision has been exemplary and it’s the best book of 2016. 10/10

THE SKEPTICS #1
Writer: Tini Howard
Art: Devaki Neogi & Jen Hickman
Black Mask Studios $3.99

James R: I decided to give The Skeptics a try as I was intrigued by the premise of this new title from Black Mask: two teen grifters fake psychic powers to get inside America's telepathic black ops programme during the Cold War. It's a great idea from Tini Howard and this first issue wastes no time in cutting to the chase, but that's unfortunately one of the flaws: the protagonists are introduced and the set-up is executed so quickly, there's not much time for mystery or for a real sense of drama or tension. Howard also takes the unusual step of making one of the main characters a British teenager from Brixton, but sadly his dialogue is so clichéd that, to anyone this side of the Atlantic, the suspension of disbelief is shattered every time he speaks. Devaki Neogi gives a nice sense of the ‘60s blended with her style shown in Curb Stomp. It will be interesting to see how this one develops, but on the strength of the first issue, The Skeptics hasn't quite won me over. 6/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #6
Writer: Nick spencer
Art: Javier Pina & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: There was a time when I would religiously follow every Marvel event series from the start right the way through to the conclusion, regardless of the quality of the tale being told. I was keyed directly into continuity so I felt an innate need to keep abreast of what was going on. Those days are over now; there’s too much creator-owned work vying for my attention, and I’ll only dip in if I’m confident of the creative team involved (the recent Secret Wars from Jonathan Hickman is a prime example). This is a bit of a long-winded way of saying I’ve skipped Civil War II almost in its entirety so have only the vaguest idea of what’s going on. Captain America: Steve Rogers is the one series that links into the current Marvel event that I'm picking up, so basically all the info I’m gleaning about Tony Stark and Carol Danvers disagreement(s) comes straight from this book. I have to admit I'm a little lost for the most part and felt that this excursion has majorly impacted on the story Spencer has been telling, but that being said, this issue turned things around a bit by focusing on the newly duplicitous relationship between Stark and Rogers, the former having no idea the latter is now a fully fledged Agent of Hydra. It’s cleverly done, and reminded me what attracted me to this title in the first place, but any more treading water over the next couple of issues and the side I’m choosing is the one that leaves this book on the shelf. 7/10

STAR WARS #24
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jorge Molina & Matt Milla
Marvel $3.99

James R: I am reviewing Star Wars this month as I feel it's my duty as a proper, pie-eyed and die-hard Star Wars fan to remind all others of a similar persuasion: this title is still really good! As well as still very much capturing the all-important 'feel' of the Original Trilogy, Aaron is doing a brilliant job in building up a great longer narrative here. The main narrative remains the Rebel's attempt to rescue of Tureen VII, but it's really rewarding to see Aaron's previous arcs play a part - the elite Stormtroopers, led by Kreel (introduced back in Luke's mission to Nar Shadda) and Sana Starros (Han's controversial 'wife') all give the book a distinctive character that marks it out as something more than a retread of the original movies. I wasn't sure about Jorge Molina's art title initially, but I've really warmed to his style, and his work is first-rate, capturing the feel of the Star Wars Universe beautifully. Once again, I cannot deny that I get a total fanboy kick out of this book - I continue to have a good feeling about this. 8/10

SEVEN TO ETERNITY #2
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Jerome Opeña & Matt Hollingsworth
Image $3.99

Matt C: For a display of comic book artistry at its finest, Seven To Eternity already takes some beating. This is Opeña outclassing everything he’s done before, which, considering what he has done before, is pretty incredible. Seriously, shove this under the eyeballs of anyone sniffy about the medium and watch them eat their words. It’s that good. It’s not all about the visual side of things though as Remender is at his world-building best again, nailing that ‘lived in’ feeling but not laying all his cards on the table at this point, instead expanding the reader’s knowledge of this fictional universe as the story unfolds. Knowing how Remender works these things, I’m confident in saying we’re in safe hands here, and the more he reveals – all exquisitely illustrated, of course – the more this book’s standing will increase. 8/10

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