17 Dec 2017

Mini Reviews 17/12/2017

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.

MISTER MIRACLE #5
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
DC $3.99

Jo S: Matt and James have both raved about this series already, and talked at length about its page structure and the bringing forward of characters who haven’t previously lead stories of their own but… confession point: whilst I appreciated the first few issues enormously, and could totally see that this was something very different and pretty special, I didn't totally ‘get’ the story. I'm not at all familiar with the characters and perhaps this was why I found it initially more confusing than gripping. However. This issue, for me, picks these characters up and raises them into a whole new category. Scott Free has been sentenced to death for his ‘crimes’ and he and Big Barda find themselves on a deadline. There are other things happening in this issue as well - the infuriating Funky Flashman hovering about trying to stage-manage Free’s execution, in particular - but the majority of pages are given over to how Scott and Barda decide to spend their last day together. I won't spoil a single panel of it for you - it's too perfect and you MUST read it. It is possibly the most romantic thing I have ever read in my life. Tom King, Mitch Gerads: my standing ovation. 10/10

James R: Mister Miracle has been brilliant so far, but issue #5 is absolutely sublime. We join Mister Miracle and Big Barda on Scott Free's last day on Earth before his execution on New Genesis. It's a simple chapter, but it's one of the best things I've read this year: a meditation on love and death, along with a reflection on the meaning of life. Tom King's script is erudite, funny and yet incredibly poignant - I can't think of many comics that use René Descartes' Meditations On First Philosophy as the basis for one of the most memorable scenes of the year. As usual, King's script is enriched by the brilliant work of Mitch Gerads, who captures the haze of L.A. to perfection. One of the best individual issues this year, I've re-read it multiple times since Wednesday, and I feel confident in saying this is a modern classic. 10/10

CAPTAIN AMERICA #696
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: The Steve Rogers Tour of One-Horse US Towns continues this week with Cap rolling into Sauga River. It looks as though this is shaping up to be a series of little one-and-done diamonds from Waid and Samnee and, I won't lie, this is the closest I've got this year to what my out-of-touch brain thought comic books were, at least in The Old Days. Cap is the classic hero - clean cut, responsible, ‘Yes Ma’am’ manners - and here he’s taking on a classic baddie, down to the clearly-evil waxed moustache. I love this stuff - it's perfect clean fun. Yes, I loved Secret Empire, and Hydra Cap was easily my pick for Best Villain this year, but this series is like a diet of fresh fruit and leafy greens after a period of decadent blow-outs - delicious, wholesome and super-good for my health. 8/10

ROYAL CITY #8
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire
Image $3.99

James R: The latest chapter in the 1990s interlude of Royal City focuses on the relationships between the Pike siblings, whilst giving us even more insight into the mind of Tommy Pike. The thing that strikes me this month about Royal City is verisimilitude - the Pikes are so well realised that this feels almost like a documentary at times, before Lemire gives us a sequence where reality warps and stretches, and once more, he uses the medium to brilliant effect. The issue concludes with a touching tribute to the late Gord Downie and the heart-breaking work Secret Path, which I highly recommend to fellow Lemire fans if you haven't yet heard about it. As it is, Royal City ends 2017 in utterly regal fashion. 9/10

DAMNED #6
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Oni Press $3.99

Jo S: This series is just so damned classy! Bunn amd Hurtt work so well together, creating a story that’s part gangster, part occult and all stylish. This issue gives some history to Eddie’s background, taking us in flashback to a childhood full of battling with wooden swords with his sweet-faced little brother. Flash forward and little Morgan is all grown up, and Edgar needs his help with unravelling the mystery hinted at in his death-dreams. This world holds together so well - Bunn never allows the magical element to excuse a lack of charaterisation; Hurtt and Crabtree produce gaunt and exhausted faces, stooped shoulders weighed down with resignation to a horrible fate. It is absolute quality from the first page to the last. 8/10

RETCON #4
Writer: Matt Nixon
Artist: Toby Cypress
Image $3.99

James R: This series turned out to be one of 2017's hidden gems. It's one of those plots that I'll struggle to give a precis of, but it's seen a group of heroes living the same adventure over and over, in an attempt to stop the destruction of the Earth by an ancient sentient spacecraft. There's far more to it than that, but that's part of the joy of Retcon - Matt Nixon jammed these four issues full of wild ideas and characters whilst keeping the plot moving. Toby Cypress' art really won me over too; there is something psychedelic about the visuals, which certainly fit the magical elements and the alien characters who formed part of the sprawling cast. I love any science fiction story that uses time as the central conceit, and Retcon managed to do something new and interesting with a well-worn groove. A mind-expanding treat, Retcon is one of the best miniseries of 2017. 8/10

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