4 Feb 2018

Mini Reviews 04/02/2018

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.

MOTHERLANDS #1
Writer: Si Spurrier
Art: Rachael Stott & Felipe Sobreiro
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Jo S: Si Spurrier was my draw to this tale of interdimensional bounty hunters, and he’s once again weaving his magic, designing a universe of connected alternate dimensions, and connected generations. Tabitha is a trawl-runner, a bounty hunter, jumping between ‘strings’ in pursuit of criminals, earning a meagre living in a cut-throat industry, trying to escape her family history. And her family IS bounty hunter history; she is the daughter of the Scarlet Sylph, a legendary celebrity in her field, now tucked under a rug in an old folks’ home. Spurrier again demonstrates his skill as a builder of worlds, and his telling of Tabitha’s grimly bitter resignation to the need to ask for her mother’s help is captured eloquently by Stott’s pencils. I like the clever intertwining of flashbacks to Tabitha’s childhood with ‘present day’ events, and enjoyed how Spurrier plays with the idea that the way the previous generation did things is now considered politically incorrect. An efficient introduction to the world, with a catchy hook to the main story at the end - I’ll come back for issue #2. 7/10

James R: I decided to pick up Motherlands as I'm incapable of letting a new-release Wednesday pass without picking up something. With nothing else on my pull-list this week, I decided to see if Si Spurrier's new dimension-jumping series could win me over. Rather than the plot, it's the art of Rachael Stott that was worth the price of admission here. Her work on Doctor Who has been really great over the last few years, and this series should see her elevated yet further. Her clean style reminds me of Jamie McKelvie but her eye for character design is superb. Unfortunately, I didn't love Spurrier's script quite so much. He gets the difficult sci-fi comic balance right in both establishing both characters and the conceit without either suffering; he introduces us to trans-dimensional bounty hunter Tabitha Tubach, hunting down criminals whilst in the shadow of her more legendary mother. Sadly, this book is a victim of comparison - Rick Remender's Black Science has been using the idea of multiverse to spectacular effect for 34 issues, and despite some nice flourishes and touches here, I couldn't help but think it pales in comparison to the saga of Grant McKay and Co. A comic that's certainly easy on the eye but stayed one-dimensional for me. 6/10

MOON KNIGHT #191
Writer: Max Bemis
Art: Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego & Mat Lopes
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This is great, and yet again the fractured mind of Marc Spector generates some of the most arresting tales in the contemporary Marvel Universe. Bemis writes a sharp script that encompasses theological ponderings, multiple personalities and flashes of humour mixed with violence and horror. It’s the horror angle that makes Burrows the perfect fit, his skill at bringing repulsive imagery into a mundane situation is exemplary, the dynamism of his panels making the story flow with a contagious energy. Some may still see Moon Knight as an also-ran Batman knock-off but smarter folks will know he’s one of the House of Ideas’ most valuable players right now. 8/10

JESSICA JONES #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos & Matt Hollingsworth
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The home stretch for the this creative team’s time with the character they created before Bendis jumps ship to DC after this arc concludes. It seems entirely fitting that it pits Jones against the Purple Man again, a once third tier villain that was invested with a hitherto unglimpsed level of homicidal manipulations when Bendis got hold of him, effectively making him Jones’ arch-nemesis in the process. His return has been well handled, his unique psychotic tendencies relayed effectively across a number of frightening scenarios, but possibly the decompression approach to storytelling makes a negative impact here, slowing things down with a sense of déjà vu sneaking in at various junctures. It’s generally been an excellent run (although some plot threads are destined never to be explored further) so I guess we can accept a narrative sag every now and then. 7/10

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #5
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett, Gerry Alanguilan, Belardino Brabo & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: A huge artistic team are all brought together for the final climactic issue of this weekly series of five, and their efforts reward us with an epic close whose ripples seem sure to be felt across the Marvel universe. Jean is still lost in her dream of blissful suburbia, and only one person can help her break free from its grip. It’s hard to do this justice without giving too much away, but suffice to say that Jean is faced with temptation after temptation - forced to choose between the beautiful contentment of a fake life and the reality of the Phoenix’s magnificent destruction: the resolution of this manages to be mythic and beautiful, original and touching. This January has been a fiery whirlwind journey and the tease of future tales to be told only fans the flames further. 8/10

PUNISHER: THE PLATOON #5
Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Goran Parlov & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: There’s no doubting this comic is shot through with a sense of bleak realism that grips tightly via the tension of conflict, and Garth Ennis is definitely no slouch in putting together a trenchant war comic, but it still suffers from the oft-leveled criticism with this kind of thing: it’s hard to figure out who’s who for much of the time! As Frank Castle is positioned as a rather distant figure it makes it hard to latch onto anyone else and as such the potential for emotional involvement diminishes. It’s still a good read though - fans of Ennis and Parlov’s prior work with the character should be satisfied - but it had the potential to be a great read. 7/10

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