1 Oct 2017

Mini Reviews 01/10/2017

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.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Esad Ribic, Steve McNiven, Matthew Wilson et al
Marvel $5.99

Matt C: This one-shot acts like a State of the Union address for Marvel, laying down where they’re at and where they intend to head from here. Unsurprisingly, it feels a little disjointed in places, having to tell a sort of complete story while acting as a teaser for multiple series, but if you want a safe pair of hands to bring everything together with some sort of sense of cohesiveness, then Jason Aaron is probably in the best position to do so with the requisite skill. There’s lots to enjoy, mostly when the digressions aren’t too obvious and jolting, the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC battling a Celestial being particularly appealing, doubly so when rendered with the imposing atmospherics of Esad Ribic’s brush. There are some pleasing reintroductions and taken as a whole it does recentre the House of Ideas’ core purpose in a satisfactory manner, with a number of the ideas certainly worth pursuing (the relaunching Marvel Two-In-One is on the list). A bit of streamlining would have made it a more engaging read but what it does do very well is remind us that with the right creative teams in the hot seats, these characters still have relevance and plenty of untapped potential. 7/10

James R: After the conclusion to Secret Wars, I decided that the time was right to step away from a lot of Marvel titles. I kept up with a couple (namely those written by Jason Aaron or Jeff Lemire) but for the most part, I was out and had no desire to go back in; there wasn't anything that I felt was essential (and even though I know it was well received by my friends here, I didn't want to get on board with Secret Empire at all). So, did Marvel Legacy tempt me back in? Sadly not. In the opening pages I was totally won over - the Avengers of 1 Million B.C. and the Celestial were great, but then I felt that a lot of what follows was very familiar and these pages didn't give me a sense of wonder or show me something I've not seen before. It's always lovely to see art from Ribic and McNiven, and Jason Aaron couldn't write a bad comic if he tried, but sadly, this just mostly left me cold. As with DC's The Forge, I couldn't get over the notion that this issue was just an extended trailer for a lot of other books (twelve!) rather than a opening chapter in a bold new story. I'm sure this will be cheered to the rafters by many, and it's not awful in any way, it's just not for me. 6/10

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Art: Jonas Goonface
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: It’s a week of hellos and goodbyes for me as several of my recent favourites reach an issue #6 arc-end and are replaced on my list by something exciting and new. I find it hard to see what could replace Godshaper in my line-up though. This beautiful freak has wormed its way deep into my psyche over recent months and I will miss its lurid bubble-gum-and-blu-tack shades, disrupted page structure and rebellious wild characters. Spurrier and Goonface make the ideal team for this tale: Spurrier is so adept at creating a consistent ‘other world’, with ideology which is at the same time both impossible to imagine and totally credible, while Goonface brings it all to life - and what life! The centre spread of this final issue gives you everything - gods and monsters, passion, greed and lust, music and the glorious heaven of free, uncensored love - all in a structure which is daring enough to say ‘Yeah, this scene is about a massive gig full of hundreds of people but I’m going to make a quarter of this page completely about this guy’s sneaker’, and totally get away with it. 9/10

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Tomm Coker & Michael Garland
Image $3.99

James R: I've been enchanted by this title since the first issue, so it shouldn't come as a shock to hear that I loved this latest installment. It's not just a case of 'more of the same' though; this issue sees Hickman and Coker shift gears and serve up something altogether darker and creepier. Detective Dumas and Dr Gaddis descend for an audience with Mammon - the dark god at the heart of this tale. It makes for startling reading; I was reminded of Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth in its depiction of Mammon's court. Having become accustomed to Hickman's 'long game' titles - such as East Of West or Avengers - to read an issue where the plot leaps forward and twists so sharply was a great surprise. Coker's art continues to be a revelation, portraying a world that's both recognisable, but yet also horrific and unsettling. Always a quality read but, with this issue, we can add 'unpredictable' to the list of plaudits. 8/10

Writer: James Robinson
Art: ACO, Hugo Petrus & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Short but oh so sweet. For whatever reason (Robinson has apparently departed Marvel, I can’t imagine the sales being particularly high) this series is coming to an end far too soon. Too be fair, I don’t think anyone predicted it would be quite as exhilarating as it has been, and it’s sadly slipped under the radar, the enthusiasm it has elicited in some quarters perhaps not loud enough to grab the attention of those who dismissed it too readily from the onset. Robinson’s tightly constructed done-in-one plots have been incredibly impressive but the real eye-popping star of the show has been ACO, whose panel designs have been a delight to behold, his inventive, energetic blasts of pop art exploding from the page (the sound effects are especially pleasing). Gone too soon but the collected edition will unquestionably be something to add to your list for Santa in a couple of months! 8/10

Jo S: This series of one-and-done adventures completes its (first?) volume this week with a sixth stylish caper seeing Son-of-Fury swan in, kick ass and hopefully drive off into the sunset looking so damn frosty cool he could ice-skate on a thermal spring. The art team of ACO, Petrus and Rosenberg have consistently bashed out high-calorie work packed with E-numbers over this series, and although I would say this final issue isn’t the best of the six, it still contains those brain-aching double spreads so packed with action, colour and detail that I have concerns for my eyeballs detaching and rolling around their sockets independently like twin roulette balls. Robinson just about manages once again to get a cohesive story into one issue, by planting a backstory, incredibly daringly, right into the credits page, and although the one-shot nature inevitably leads to a certain shallowness, it doesn’t matter - this is all about the style; the substance is less important. 8/10

LAZARUS: X+66 #3
Writer: Greg Rucka & Neal Bailey
Arti: Justin Greenwood & Santi Arcas
Image $3.99

James R: Whilst reading this latest chapter of the Lazarus fill-in series, I was reminded of the great Philip K. Dick's words on world-building in fiction: "You have to create a world that doesn't fall apart after five minutes." By this, Dick meant that a fictional world needed to be one that was fully realised and believable; and with every issue of Lazarus, Greg Rucka does just that. Away from the central plot of Forever Carlyle, and the power struggle amongst the families, the everyday struggles of the Serfs and the Waste are vividly realised. I've found the first two parts of X+66 enjoyable enough, but I thought this issue was particularly strong. Joe and Bobbie Barrett, whose son Michael has proved to be invaluable to the Carlyles, take the lead; their discomfort at their lives within the gilded cages is handled beautifully, and the scene where we see the lives of the Waste feels less science fiction, and more a report from five minutes into the future. Justin Greenwood does a fine job on pencils and this is a great interlude that shows off what an essential property Lazarus has become. 8/10

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