15 Jan 2017

Mini Reviews 15/01/2017

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.

JESSICA JONES #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: More superb character work really elevates this title up to the same level as its predecessor. There’s believable, authentic emotion coursing through the book, the interactions between the main players feel genuine and therefore more affecting. It’s not primarily a character piece though, and as if to emphasise that, the plot throws in a very clever twist that is perfectly timed, opening up a new set of possibilities while amending our perspective on what’s come before. And just when you think you’ve sussed where things are going now, Bendis shows he still has more than a few tricks left up his sleeve. Gaydos and Hollingsworth bring warmth and grit to the visuals, and really, if you have an interest in the darker, more ‘adult’ corners of the contemporary Marvel Universe, then Jessica Jones should really be on your pull-list. 9/10

SHIPWRECK #3
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Phil Hester & Mark Englert
Aftershock Comics $3.99

James R: After two opening chapters heavy on mystery and atmosphere, the secrets of Dr Shipwright and the Janus project are brought to light in this month's issue of Shipwreck. As you'd expect from Warren Ellis, it's bleeding edge technology and man's attempt to escape the Earth that forms the core of the plot, and as an Ellis fan, I naturally enjoyed it. With this being a six-issue series, it has a lean and pared-back feel to it that I think really suits the story. Students of the medium should also think about picking this up as the backmatter has an excellent example of how Phil Hester, Mark Englert, inker Eric Gapstur and letterer Marshall Dillon all contribute to bring the script to life. Certainly Aftershock's best book to date, Shipwreck stays safely afloat. 8/10

MOONSHINE #4
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso & Cristian Rossi
Image $2.99

Matt C: This richly atmospheric horror/gangster hybrid continues to impress thanks to a creative team working at the top of their game. There’s nothing original about any of the elements being utilized to tell this tale, but Azzarello brings them all together with such style and ingenuity that it avoids clich├ęd pitfalls, remaining compelling and surprising as he mixes real history with the supernatural. Risso’s artwork is its usual moody, dynamic, intense self, evoking the shadiness of the era with consummate ease. 100 Bullets will probably always be considered as the pinnacle of the partnership between Azzarello and Risso but that shouldn’t diminish the thrills and entertainment this collaboration offers. 8/10

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #16
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jason Latour
Image $3.50

James R: Down in Craw County, things are beginning to fall apart for Coach Boss. In an attempt to turn around the fortunes of the Running Rebs, he resorts to some drastic and downright unsportsmanly conduct with the most dangerous member of the Rebs' next opponents. If you've been reading Southern Bastards from the start, this issue packs a double hit - not only do Coach Boss' actions make for a magnetic read, but how they mirror his own childhood trauma makes it harrowing. Aaron paints a picture of a man wholly corrupted and lost, and it's magnificent. Jason Latour's art is phenomenal as always, and it's great to see him bring a new character to life in the shape of Colonel Quick McLusky (and his monkey!) Still one of the best books being published, Southern Bastards continues to give the opposition no quarter. 9/10

Matt C: This book doesn’t take any prisoners. It’s not afraid to display the ugliest aspects of human nature, when desperation and anger release something that can never be put back into the box. The violence is unpleasant but magnetic, the staging that goes into each sequence is quite extraordinary as it brings the emotions bubbling to the surface in a way that’s almost tangible. Latour’s illustrations really draw out the high drama of the story but on top of that his adaptive colouring emphasises the lurid, dangerous environment these characters inhabit. Never comfortable reading but always resolutely compelling. 8/10

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