28 May 2017

Mini Reviews 28/05/2017

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.

PLASTIC #2
Writer: Doug Wagner
Art: Daniel Hillyard & Laura Martin
Image $3.99

Jo S: Andrew Robinson’s cover art for this book is a work of genius: the lurid pink, the horrifying smirk and the plastic bag wrapping a severed head, apparently labelled with that most evocatively squeamish word ‘MOIST’, all spring out at you right away - looking longer rewards you when you notice that Virginia’s face appears in the background, her permanently shocked open mouth neatly replaced by the donut her monstrous lover is relishing with disgusting glee. The story inside doesn’t let up on the gruesomeness: ‘Victor’ (sadly, we discover, an alias - I was enjoying the couple’s alliterative names) has been forced into wetwork duties by Belliveau, whose henchmen have kidnapped his beloved Virginia. Our hero excels, and revels, in his duties and, clearly missing his beautiful but ever-silent travelling partner, soon finds a temporary replacement. Purchasing further donuts to cement his new friendship he meets the astonishingly familiar-looking vendor at ‘Holes and More’ - could Virginia have a twin? Like pink-glazed donuts with lavish sprinkles, I know this book is probably going to be bad for my health but, man, I cannot get enough! 10/10

SAMARITAN VERITAS #1
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Art: Atilio Rojo
Image/Top Cow $3.99

Matt C: I hadn’t figured on this being so heavily tied into the ‘Edenverse’ (writer Matt Hawkins’ ‘shared universe’ that encompasses Think Tank, Postal, The Tithe and Eden’s Fall), assuming it to be more of a standalone title that plays into Hawkin’s interests in bleeding edge tech and a societal trends, but it quickly becomes clear that knowledge of the other books is a must. I’m guessing the intention is that it can be read as a story that can stand on its own two feet, the links being bonus, but as someone who only picks up Think Tank out of the aforementioned titles it did feel like stepping into an ongoing narrative mid-flow. Because of that, it proves to be very difficult to find a way in if you’re not fully invested in this world. For those already there, I guess this is something you need to look at, but if you’re not involved already, this issue isn’t going to help you on your way. 5/10

Jo S: I was hoping to like this book - a Robin Hood-style hacker who wants to take down a massive corporation and give the profits to the needy is a good starting premise - but the task of making a visually interesting story about a hero whose super-skills are in maximum effect whilst seated at a computer screen is a tough call and I'm not so far convinced that Hawkins and Rojo managed to rise to that challenge here. Setting aside the irritation for me of several footnotes to previous stories in the series (I knew I wasn't starting from scratch, the key motivation was flagged at each stage, no more was necessary) there were some strong elements: I liked the idea of the deeply religious but corrupt senator rising to become president by inflaming religious intolerance, the rich bright colours used during Samantha’s French sojourn, and the team of operatives named for nerdy movie characters and wearing Jesus masks to carry out a kidnap and blackmail scheme. Ultimately though, the pace was awkward and I found it too hard to identify with the characters. I'll be passing this samaritan by next time. 4/10

BLACK HAMMER #9
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: David Rubin
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: This continues to be magnificent of course, but the special ingredient in this month's Black Hammer is guest artist David Rubin. Rubin has been scintillating on art duties for Matt Kindt's excellent Ether, and he brings that magic to this tale of Talky-Walky. The backstory - and current fate - of Black Hammer's resident robot is absolutely heartbreaking. As always, Jeff Lemire is a master of emotion, and (for want of a better phrase) gives us all the feels here. Rubin portrays Talky-Walky's home of New Technopolis with verve, whilst matching Dean Ormston's grit when illustrating Back Hammer farm. There's just something magical about this book that I love, and as it progresses, it just seems to get better and better. I'll welcome Dean Ormston back to this title, but when Lemire can call on artists like David Rubin to fill in every now and then, this series can easily be described as stellar. 9/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #17
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Andres Guinaldo, Ramon Bachs & Rachell Rosenberg
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: In which the series that paved the way for Marvel’s current big summer event becomes secondary to the event itself. That’s not to say it isn't without merit, but it’s not required reading to get a kick out of what’s going on in the main miniseries. There’s some filling-in-of-blanks going on for those who need a bit more detail, the most interesting by far being Captain America and Magneto coming to an agreement over how to co-exist without things spiraling out into war. It’s a great scene, and Spencer obviously knows what he’s doing by now, and even though it would perhaps class as non-essential, I doubt anyone digging Secret Empire would be disappointed by this issue as a whole. 7/10

EAST OF WEST #33
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
Image $3.99

James R: This week it's all about consistency. I also picked up Jonathan Hickman's The Dying And The Dead, but the gap between issues there has been so huge, I suffered from a heavy dose of fanboy amnesia as I tried to recall the intricacies of the plot. There's no danger of that with East Of West though - Hickman and Nick Dragotta have been so incredibly consistent (and just incredible full stop) that East Of West has been as regular as a metronome. In this issue there's the real sense that we're heading toward an apocalyptic endgame in this alternate-universe future. Slowly, characters who have clashed and avoided death for years now find themselves making final alliances and unable to dodge mortality any more. This has always been a unique book, and as much as I will be sad to see it end, I'm also thrilled to see how Hickman and Dragotta wrap it all up - on the strength of this issue, it will be a searing finale. 8/10

DEADLY CLASS #28
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Wes Craig & Jordan Boyd
Image $3.99

Matt C: Teenage melodrama, with copious violence dished out by gangsters and wannabe assassins, Deadly Class remains completely magnetic even as the situations become more operatic and sensational. The twists and turns keep coming but Remender never loses his grip on the narrative, weaving in his outlandish story beats to give the overall tapestry a sense of both grandeur and tragedy. Craig and Boyd bring intensity and tragedy to the page and the whole enterprise seems to evoke an adolescent feeling of emotions running amok, which is, unsurprisingly, the best and most truthful way to present this particular tale. 8/10

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