13 Aug 2017

Mini Reviews 13/08/2017

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.

THE SHADOW #1
Writers: Si Spurrier & Dan Watters
Art: Daniel HDR & Natalia Marques
Dynamite $3.99

Jo S: So. My pull-list was a monster this week, and I was close to giving this new series a miss but kept it in because I’ve been really enjoying Spurrier’s writing on Godshaper. I've now awarded myself a pat on the back because, man, this is GOOD! This first issue brings the character right into the present day, and ties the story to current events very cleverly. In fact, the whole issue is very clever: without spoiling it, Spurrier and Watters apply a device throughout this issue which allows them to give us all the background we need to get started, garnished with just the right amount of sarcastic wit. The stylish use of the flowing red scarf motif, particularly in the last scene, and the theme of maniacal laughter pull the parts of the story together pleasingly. Will future issues be as smart? We'll see. 9/10

MISTER MIRACLE #1
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
DC $3.99

James R: At last, a new superhero title to get excited about! I've been feeling very disconnected from the Big Two over the last few months, so I'm delighted to report that the creative heavyweights behind The Sheriff Of Babylon have created a compelling and involving opening chapter for Scott Free. You don't really need to know much about Mister Miracle to enjoy this book - Tom King does a fine job of bringing readers up to speed, and then reeling us in. We meet the world's greatest escape artist following a suicide attempt; 'Trying to escape death' no less, and while he recovers, news reaches Earth that Darkseid has gained the Anti-Life Equation and can now manipulate reality. As the issue unfolds, Mister Miracle begins to see that all may not be as it first appears. This is just one of those titles that oozes quality, and from the opening pages you can tell that this is going to be work that easily stands on a par with the magnificent The Sheriff of Babylon. There's no sleight of hand or misdirection here - just high quality comics. 9/10

Matt C: The team behind 2016’s bruising, brilliant miniseries The Sheriff Of Babylon now take on one of Jack Kirby’s most outlandish creations, Scott Free aka Mister Miracle, the adopted son of the villainous Darkseid. As expected it’s fresh, startlingly inventive and instantly positions itself as one of the best things released by either of the Big Two this year. Utilizing the 9-panel structure to brilliant effect, it humanizes the characters here to a degree that you wouldn’t think possible, given their origins, and with multiple panels simply emphasising “Darkseid is” like a beating drum, it suggests the titular character may have to escape something a little less tangible than he’s used to. Gerads brings a strong mixture of realism and unreality to the pages as King sets in motion a mystery that at this stage seems to be entering similar territory to Jeff Lemire’s recent stint on Moon Knight, posing existential questions around the nature of being. Even at this early stage it’s looking like Mister Miracle will be one of the essential reads over the next 12 months. 9/10

SACRED CREATURES #2
Writer: Pablo Raimondi & Klaus Janson
Art: Pablo Raimondi & Chris Chucky
Image $3.99

Jo S: I won't lie, I shied away from reviewing the first issue of this series because, after two readings, I was still pretty confused as to what was going on. Josh, young father-to-be, had been caught up in an apparent supernatural murder plot and was clearly suffering under the influence of some pretty hefty dark forces, causing him to carry out a plan he knew nothing about. A slew of fairly brief introductions to characters whose motivations were unclear (although definitely Not Good) made it a little hard to follow. This second issue helped hugely though: some of the events of the previous issue are retold from a different angle, with a supporting tutorial from Father Adrian who, although also confused about some details (specifically, how Josh is not dead yet), clearly knows a great deal more about the ‘family’. If substantial value for money is a thing for you in comics, then this is definitely for you. The art is rich and detailed, the mystery is engaging and complex, and you get a whole lot of quality pages for your $3.99. There are also naked angels and giant hairless flaming cats, in case either of those is your thing too. 8/10

GRASS KINGS #6
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Tyler Jenkins
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: You know that game, where you choose six people from history whom you would like to invite to your ultimate dinner party? Matt Kindt just made my list. I'm sure he'd get on with Newton and Asimov but less sure that I'd want to share his time with them because I have so many QUESTIONS. As with each of the six issues in the arc, this final episode opens with a little ‘history’, a piece from the Grass Kingdom’s past. It's an interesting choice this time; shorter than in previous books, it makes me want to ask “Is this intended to cast doubt on the veracity of the rest of the tale?” We’re then dragged rapidly into the present and into a pitched battle, precipitated by Maria’s presence in the Kingdom, but many decades in the making. Jenkins’ artwork is utterly beautiful throughout this book; though Kindt’s dialogue is economical, together they manage to convey so much more than the mere words alone. It was a Kindt comic that got me into this in the first place and Grass Kings has accompanied me through much of my journey this year: for me this series epitomises what I've come to love about ‘other’ publishers, full of originality and intrigue, depth of emotional pull and aesthetic brilliance. 8/10

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