14 Jan 2018

Mini Reviews 14/01/2018

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 #6
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
DC $3.99

James R: At the halfway point of Mister Miracle, it's interesting to read something that's already accepted as a modern-day classic - each issue has been so assured, the monthly instalments cement its reputation, whilst leaving me thrilled as to just where this series might be heading. Issue #6 isn't the zenith of the series (issue #5 currently holds that honour for me) but it is still a remarkable book, with Scott Free and Big Barda fighting their way through New Genesis whilst discussing redecorating their home, their deeds treated as commonplace as a supermarket shop. It's not always mentioned how funny King's scripts are, but there's a slew of great moments in the issue, my personal favourite being the guards who continue to squabble over the theology of the New Gods. Mitch Gerads continues to redefine the nine-panel grid, doing some phenomenal work with fixed perspectives and collapsing space. This book is a continuing joy to behold; by now you should be on board with this series, but if somehow you're holding back, the message is simple - believe the hype. 9/10

Matt C: On the surface, there appears to be an overwhelming disparity between what’s being said and what we’re seeing in this issue. It’s interior redesign vs fortress infiltration, and it shouldn't work because you’d imagine neither element would mesh with the other without significant forcefulness, but not only does it work, the apparent incongruity elevates this into the realms of genius. Tom King delves into the dynamics of a loving, if unusual, relationship whilst Mitch Gerads works wonders with the nine-panel grid structure, perhaps the only criticism being that it’s not an oversized book that you can absorb yourself in further. A truly astonishing piece of work and proof that the genre is far from tired when bright, creative minds have the wherewithal to push it forward. 9/10

SECRET WARRIORS #12
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Ramón Bachs & Israel Silva
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Sadly, the Secret Warriors series reaches the end of the line with issue #12, and boy, has it been a ride! Matthew Rosenberg clearly channelled every scrap of his creative energies into this last issue with a result that's touching and hilarious in equal measure. If I were running Marvel, I would insist that, for as long as he is available, ONLY Rosenberg should ever be allowed to write Karnak. Without ever compromising his ruthless, entirely self-serving attitude, Karnak is, in Rosenberg’s hands, a comedy superstar, and his team-up with Lunella is perfection. The choice of Ramón Bachs for the art on this is inspired: together with Silva’s colours, he brings a more intimate feel to the team characters for this issue. I love the choice to invite the reader to join the party to celebrate the end of the team working together, and especially love that they are choosing to play Secret Wars Risk! I can’t tell you who wins, obviously, but I can say that apparently the X-Men never have cake... 9/10

JUDAS #2
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Artist: Jakub Rebelka
BOOM! Studios $3.99

James R: Following a hugely promising debut issue, the second chapter of Judas worked on several levels for me. To begin, artist Jakub Rebelka's work here is remarkable - in some ways, his style is reminiscent of Frazer Irving's but Rebelka's depiction of Hell is a wonderful mix of light and dark, with a terrific use of colour. Secondly Loveness' script is one infused with intelligence and reflection: in this issue, Satan meets Judas and asks him to consider just how free any human is in a Universe run by an omniscient God, and should those who are deemed evil be punished when their lives could only have ended in one outcome? I realise this book will certainly not be for everyone, but huge credit to BOOM! Studios for backing a title that asks readers to (potentially) challenge orthodox ways of looking at faith. Brilliant work from all involved, Judas is a great example of the diversity of modern comics. 8/10

ROYAL CITY #9
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire
Image $3.99

Matt C: The extended early '90s flashback continues, and the obvious autobiographical elements ensure this feels genuine and honest, particularly for those of us of a certain age (and disposition). It’s the moments between the moments that really resonate, the parts of the narrative that don’t push the story forward but are so telling about the characters as to be utterly essential to the overall effect. We’re skipping the central mystery of the contemporary plotline here but there’s so much layering of the core characters happening that it feels absolutely necessary, providing us with a sense of where the cast appeared to be headed, now that we know where they actually ended up. Lemire always delivers the goods, whether working with established properties or creator-owned concepts, but there’s so much heart in the telling of this particular tale that it’s affecting on a granular level. Sublime. 9/10

James R: Absolutely awful! No, sorry, I'm kidding - this is a wonderful comic, but when you're permanently saluting your favourite creator, well, I just thought I'd see what it felt like to type that! But back to Royal City - of course, this book continues to exude class on every page. With this '90s flashback' arc, I've loved how Lemire has used the 'show, don't tell' method of storytelling - this month, the book focuses on the teenage Patrick Pike, and rather than have him explain how he feels, Lemire shows us his mind-numbing daily routine, and the reflections of Tommy to give us our insight. As with Mister Miracle this week, it's amazing to read a book that you simply know will be brilliant before you open the cover. 2018 is already shaping up to be as stellar as 2017 for Jeff Lemire. 9/10

GRASS KINGS #11
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Tyler Jenkins & Hilary Jenkins
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: The current arc of the Grass Kingdom reached the last chapter this week, with a few loose ends tied up and yet more still a-straggling. Recent issues in this series have been character portraits, close-up studies of a person or a family, the loves and traumas that have stitched their lives into the tapestry of the Kingdom community, and the part they played in the tragedies old and new which have shaped the landscape there. Themes of things too long unsaid, new love unrequited and old love kept safe at terrible cost, dark years-old secrets refusing to stay buried… Grass Kings was one of the first series which got me really excited about the art of comic books, with its beautiful watercolour subtlety: Jenkins and Kindt are perfectly in sync, with Kindt’s stoic characters giving away so much more visually at Jenkins’ hand than their conversations alone allow. This is a series I will treasure. 9/10

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