19 Nov 2017

Mini Reviews 19/11/17

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.

BLACK SCIENCE #33
Writer: Rick Remender
Artists: Matteo Scalera & Moreno Dinisio
Image $3.99

James R: I haven't reviewed Black Science in a while as it's one of those books that's just consistently good - Remender and Scalera hit such a strong storytelling groove on this one, it's just been the same brilliant, dimension-jumping stuff. This month, it deserves a special mention though, as it's a tremendous climax to both the current arc and the series to date. Attempting a recap in a brief review is an exercise in futility, but here we see Grant McKay trying to stop the current dimension's Kadir from starting his own Pillar, and destroying countless multiverses. I really loved this issue as it shows just how smart Remender is as a writer: as a philosophy teacher, he gets extra credit from me for the correct use of Plato's Forms, and the opening sequence in which the young Grant reflects on the notion of accomplishment and fame was one of the best things I've read this year. Matteo Scalera's art is majestic - combining a multitude of sci-fi ideas and concepts with aplomb, his pages are eye-poppingly good. The next issue promises to 'deliver some answers' but I would be happy for this creative team to keep stringing us along: Black Science remains a breathless blast through the multiverse. 8/10

DARK FANG #1
Writer: Miles Gunter
Art: Kelsey Shannon
Image $3.99

Jo S: Dark Fang sets its stall out right on the first page as definitely-not-suitable-for-kids and doesn’t let up too much throughout the issue. This was an impulse-buy for me, having failed to take the time to do my pull-list research thoroughly this week, and I guess I can chalk it up as one of those experiences which might have been the start of something serendipitously marvellous… but wasn’t, quite. The art is high-end Disney Princess gorgeous - there’s a section of undersea backstory which includes a magical jellyfish dress and a classic fairy story-style unusual friendship which is confusingly pretty and sweet - but it’s shot right through with grossness. There’s deftly dealt icky humour, such as headless assistant Toby standing nonchalantly reading his phone under one of those ‘70s transparent plastic umbrellas, as a rain of blood drips down from the ceiling (it was funny, honestly! Maybe you had to be there), and it has a certain ghoulish style but, for me at least, the scale tips just a tad towards distasteful and I probably won’t repeat the error. 5/10

DESCENDER #26
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Image $3.99

James R: All hail Dustin Nguyen! From the first issue of Descender, Nguyen's art has given this title a 'wow' factor - his use of watercolours has provided Descender with such distinctive character, it's always beautiful to look at. This issue, he outdoes himself with a four-page fold-out that shows the uprising of robots around the galaxy, and it's stunning. As with Black Science, this issue is a crescendo chapter, with Tim-21, Andy and the Hardwire plots coming together nicely. In my eyes, Jeff Lemire couldn't write a bad comic, and his script here juggles the three plots masterfully, but it's Nguyen who deserves the plaudits this week. Last week, Port Of Earth illustrated just how hard it is to make a distinctive and original science-fiction series; Nguyen makes it look very easy. 8/10

MECH CADET YU #4
Writer Greg Pak
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa & Triona Farrell
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: On the upside, sometimes when I pick something up on a whim, it can work out well… Mech Cadet Yu won its place on my pull-list solely because of the giant robots, but has stuck around for the big heart and the classic storytelling. I compared the first issue to Cinderella and stick by that, but the tale is now moving on to new areas. There’s nothing at all new in this story of the misfit who earns a spot on the team of specialists, the maverick whose lack of training is part of the reason he succeeds as well as the reason he’s constantly in trouble with the higher-ups, the interplay between the plucky underdog and the entitled snob, the former saves the latter and they bond… yada-yada-yada. True, there isn’t a single new idea in this whole thing, but it’s written and drawn with love, with respect and tenderness, and its goodness is infectious. This is a great series for youngsters, and I’m really enjoying it too. 7/10

EVOLUTION #1
Writers: James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela & Joshua Williamson
Artists: Joe Infurnari & Jordan Boyd
Image $3.99

James R: I decided to take a punt on Evolution as I thought it was an intriguing premise. Humans faced with extinction as evolution suddenly lurches forward, and that reminded me of two things: firstly the X-Men, and also Sweet Tooth. Jeff Lemire's magnum opus was a very similar premise to this, and so I wanted to see just how the legion of writers approached the idea. Asmus et al are clearly placing more emphasis on the body horror-transformation side of things (if it wasn't clear from Infurnari's art, then the writers say so in their welcome to the series). That certainly gives Evolution a distinct character, and this first issue does a good job of blending character, explication and mystery. I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not 100% sure if I'll be back for issue #2 - the script and the art are all nice but I've never been a horror fan in any medium, and as such, I couldn't see enough here to bring me back. If you are a horror junkie, Evolution is definitely worth a look, but for me, I'll stay unevolved. 6/10

MINKY WOODCOCK: THE GIRL WHO HANDCUFFED HOUDINI #1
Writer: Cynthia Von Buhler
Art: Cynthia Von Buhler
Titan Comics $3.99

Jo S: I’m anxious writing this that I can’t do justice to something produced by an artist of the talent of Von Buhler. She is evidently utterly immersed in the world she writes about and illustrates, to the point where I struggle to separate her creations from historical truth. This story centres around the titular Minky Woodcock, Agatha Christie superfan, daughter of a private investigator and sister of a flamboyant brother, whose expected but unwanted position as successor to his father Minky craves desperately for herself. Relegated to the position of secretary, Minky is compelled to employ devious methods to inveigle herself into an investigation into Harry Houdini, requested by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. Von Buhler clearly adores her creation: Minky appears bright-eyed, whip-sharp and tenacious as a barnacle but Von Buhler draws her also as uncompromisingly, lusciously sexy. Themes of illusion, spiritualism and con-artistry will always get my dime; mix that with a mystery and a girl who can wear nothing but nail polish and pearls and still be the most stylish in the room and I’m the perfect mark. 9/10

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