18 Dec 2016

Mini Reviews 18/12/2016

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.

HAWKEYE #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Leonardo Romero & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: For all intents and purposes, Kate Bishop was just as much the star of the recent volumes of Hawkeye as Clint Barton, so it was really only a matter of time until she wasn’t required to share the limelight with her namesake. It’s pretty much business as usual too as Kelly Thompson continues the fine work of Messers Fraction and Lemire by retaining the smart, sassy persona that made her such a compelling, enjoyable character, moving her story forward organically and placing new hurdles in her path. Leonardo Romero channels David Aja’s stylistic flourishes but also brings to mind Franco Francavilla with some solid, expressive linework which Jordie Bellaire then works wonders with, as always. A lot of fun, but with hints of darker edges on the horizon. 8/10

HADRIAN'S WALL #4
Writers: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel
Artist: Rod Reis
Image $3.99

James R: I've already highlighted things that I've enjoyed about Hadrian's Wall in previous reviews - the beautiful world-building, the characterisation - but this month adds another area of excellence: pacing. Having established that Hadrian's Wall would be a whodunnit in space, Higgins and Siegel use this issue to shift gears and expand the narrative. We're introduced to the Theta Colony, a group of separatists demanding independence from Earth, with the revelation that they had a part to play in the death of Edward Madigan. I am constantly impressed with this creative team - every time I pick up one of their books, I'm always wholly immersed in a comic of intrigue, intelligence and stunning design. In the same way that Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips work together so well that any book they create is an automatic must-buy, it's becoming the same for Higgins, Siegel and Reis; they're a guarantee of greatness. 8/10

JESSICA JONES #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This is like when of your favourite bands get back together. Are they going to recapture the magic of yore or are you going to wish they never bothered as they tarnish their legacy? Jessica Jones has proven to be, unexpectedly, the former, as it taps right back into that rich seam of brilliance that made Alias such a unique and thrilling series back at the turn of the century. Jessica Jones is one of those characters who seems incapable of having an easy ride in life as she always manages to find a way to screw things up and stubbornly refuses to give in at any stage. It’s what made her such a enthralling heroine back then and it’s what makes her such a wonderfully magnetic presence now. The only criticism I have of this hugely energizing series is that we had to wait over a decade to get Jessica back where she belongs! 9/10

James R: I thought that my enjoyment of Jessica Jones was partially fuelled by my nostalgia for Alias, but this third issue demonstrated that it's a strong read on its own. Following on from her kidnapping at the hands of the Spot, we learn just who wanted Jessica - and it's for something more complex than a ransom. Bendis made his name as a man who can write great dialogue (before becoming a caricature of his own style) and it was nice to see him recover the old magic here - the three-way discussion between Jessica, the Spot and her kidnapper that makes up the heart of the issue was superb. Gaydos and Hollingsworth continue to work in synch, making the world of Jessica Jones one that's still recognisably the Marvel Universe, but yet one that's more rooted in our gritty reality. Bendis sets up a great premise for the rest of this arc, and I am totally hooked - long may it continue. 8/10

DESCENDER #17
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Image $2.99

James R: Given the utterly stellar year Jeff Lemire has had, it's sometimes the case that Descender gets overlooked. This lusciously illustrated book is never less than great, but given the huge amount of plotlines, back stories, and world-building Lemire and Nguyen do, sometimes there's a loss of impetus. Not so this month, as Lemire writes a script that is truly breathtaking, and pays off the last ten issues with aplomb. The narrative is split into three panels that run throughout the book, one dealing with Tim-21's fight for survival against Tim-22, the reconciliation between Andy and Eff, and Captain Tesla's attempt to escape from captivity on the Machine Moon. Cutting between - and juxtaposing - the three plots is a thing of beauty to read, and as always, Nguyen's art is incredible. Here he illustrates action, passion and desperation magnificently. This issue was the jolt that the title needed to remind me why it's such an essential read, and Jeff Lemire's extraordinary streak shows no sign of stopping. 9/10

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