10 Sep 2017

Mini Reviews 10/09/2017

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.

BOMBSHELLS UNITED #1
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Art: Marguerite Sauvage
DC $2.99

Jo S: I wasn’t aware of the (admittedly quite short) history of the Bombshells concept until doing a little research on it so this new series gave me an opportunity to go back and look up some detail. I can now wear my Bombshells Diana Prince shirt and feel like less of a fraud; having bought it just because I liked the look of it, I’m reassured to discover that the comic book series are actually based on the merch design rather than the other way around  (which I figure justifies my ‘buy it because I like the look of it’ policy). In this new series, the girls are fighting fascism on home turf, hence the subtitle ‘American Soil’, and although the series is set in alternative history’s 1940s, the pokes at current US events are inescapable, as the girls resist the government imposed internment of (in this case, Japanese) civilians. The artwork is a little rough for my taste but I love the vintage-style colours and the movement in the heroes’ hair is beautiful. What I love most about this is that Bennett and Sauvage don’t shy away from this being the equivalent of the wartime posters the genre emulates - yes, it’s rousing propaganda for an ideal world where all-female heroes strive for equality for all, but it’s also cheap and cheerful, spirit-lifting fun. 8/10

JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI: CAPTAIN PHASMA #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Marco Checchetto & Andres Mossa
Marvel $3.99

James R: I knew this wouldn't be my book of the year, nor would it redefine the medium, but I can't deny I really enjoyed it. I always understand the school of thought that says in any story, you don't have to fill in all the blanks; there are some narratives where you can decide for yourself what happened to a character or happened in a mysterious event, but then as a fanboy, I can't resist being given more of what I love - and I really love Star Wars! Kelly Thompson does a fine job here of showing us how Captain Phasma escaped Starkiller Base in ten minutes; this issue doesn't waste a panel in propelling the story forward, and certainly gives the mysterious Stormtrooper commander her due. Marco Checchetto is now an old hand and portraying the Star Wars Universe (following his work on Shattered Empire) and he's on good form here too. This passes my all-important 'Star Wars Feel' test - it feels like a natural progression from Episode VII. The Last Jedi is still three agonising months away, but this certainly helps scratch the itch in the meantime. 7/10

JESSICA JONES #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos, Javier Pulido & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Perhaps patchier than the opening arc, this sophomore tale ends on a high note thanks to some smart, gripping storytelling from Bendis, embellishing the past history of a character he introduced to the Marvel Universe over a decade ago. He does this, as with the preceding issue, by bringing in Javier Pulido to add some retro spice to the otherwise pseudo-realistic concoction, and it proves to be a brilliantly effective device, complete with a cameo from a certain grizzled, eye-patch-wearing badass. Gaydos still brings it when we need to see the world-weary Jessica in view, and that final page is a killer, suggesting the next arc will be the real deal. 8/10

BLACK BOLT #5
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Frazer Irving & Christian Ward
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: The end of the last episode of this Inhumans oddity saw the mighty Lockjaw crash into the prison where Boltagon was just about to die yet again at the hands of the mysterious Jailer. This one opens with Irving’s delicate, soft-focus flashback showing us Lockjaw’s origin and the formation of the perfect bond between the mighty space-mutt and his necessarily silent master. Lockjaw has rescued Black Bolt from perpetual agonising death and resurrection but in doing so has accidentally plunged him into a dilemma of conscience. This series is not to everyone’s taste, but this issue showcases all that’s good about it. Ward’s dreamy-nightmare graphics build a world where nothing feels familiar or reliable; there is strength and tangible emotion bonding characters together and a fantastically psychedelic rescue battle echoes the recent Nick Fury series in its narcotic inventiveness. It’s a treat for the eyes and the heart: if you’ve avoided Inhumans books previously I would urge you to let this be the one which makes you reconsider. 8/10

BATMAN #30
Writer: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann, Seth Mann & Jordie Bellaire
DC $2.99

James R: I can always admit that I'm in the wrong, and in the world of comics, I find it's actually a very pleasant surprise when it happens. Undoubtedly, Tom King has now established himself as one of the finest writers in mainstream comics (with The Vision, Sheriff Of Babylon and now Mister Miracle all being pure gold) but I wasn't entirely convinced by his opening arcs on Batman. With the interlude in 'The War Of Jokes And Riddles' though, he demonstrates that he's now found his groove with Batman, and it's terrific to see. Firstly, kudos definitely goes to the art team - Clay Mann's pencils give us a Gotham with a foot in reality, and sometimes that can look bizarre, but here it's a thing of dark beauty. King's script focuses on Kite Man, the 'D' list villain who has grown to take a central role in his run. We're treated to a series of vignettes that make up a series of savage beatings that (rightfully) make Kite Man question his value and worth. It's beautifully paced and involving, and it's made me put Batman back on my pull-list. A heartbreaking read, but a magnificent book. 8/10

HAWKEYE #10
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Leonardo Romero & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: You know a writer’s captured the ‘voice’ of a character when you can almost immediately sense something’s off, like you’ve missed a beat or two and are not completely comfortable with where you find yourself. Thompson gets Kate Bishop on a granular level; the rhythm and cadence of her speech, the way she talks herself into doing the right thing, every time. She’s such an engaging, contagious character to be around, it’s hard not to fall for her, and impossible not to register when something doesn’t feel quite right. Romero’s art remains buoyant and breezy, Bellaire’s colours here really making the nightclub sequence pop. Bishop was clearly a great supporting player when Clint Barton was headlining, but now she’s showing us that she belonged directly in the spotlight all along. 8/10

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