11 Mar 2018

Mini Reviews 11/03/2018

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.

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Lorenzo De Felici & Annalisa Leoni
Image $3.99

Matt C: Robert Kirkman’s latest stab at a series with a post-apocalyptic vibe gets off to a decent start with a lone protagonist attempting to rescue people from some sort of transdimensional anomaly, hoping that his brother will be one of them. The set-up is established nicely, with a careful release of info about the world the story takes place in instead of an exposition dump, and the pacing is on point, hitting the marks at exactly the right moments to sustain interest. De Felici’s art is imaginative and well framed, although facial renderings in some places lack consistency, perhaps not welcome when it applies to the main character in particular. Overall, it’s okay, a promising enough opener. The trouble is, when Kirkman starts talking about issue #30 in his back-up introductory essay you realise the kind of commitment this book will require, and merely being okay isn’t a convincing argument to sign on the dotted line. There are a LOT of books in the marketplace, so there’s a need for a series to come out of fighting right out of the gate, and if that doesn’t happen, picking up issue #2 is put into question, let alone #30. It’s not a bad book, and Kirkman fans at the very least will find much to enjoy, but I’m not going to make it for the long haul on this one. 7/10

Jo S: I can't deny that without Kirkman’s name on the top of this, the blurb alone for the story would probably have not been enough to win this book a spot on my list (especially with this being such a crazy week for me already). With Kirkman on board though, my confidence that it would be worth my time was borne out: the writer has built a credible tale of a publicly-funded hero who has found a way to rescue people who were stolen, along with the city of Philadelphia when it was switched with an alt-Philly populated by bug-eyed monsters. There were many touches which I really appreciated: the desire of government to brush past events under the carpet, to save funding for the many by abandoning the few expensive-to-save, the protests by religious groups who interpret the catastrophe as the will of God. I found the art perhaps lacked a little gravity though - the action scenes were fantastically dynamic but the whole thing was a bit ‘toony’ for me; the slightly too-comedic monsters contrasting a little tackily with the Ground-Zero-style monument to those lost in the ‘event’. There's certainly plenty enough mystery triggered in this first issue to bring me back for more though. 7/10

James R: Robert Kirkman's work has never quite hit the spot for me - I'm not a fan of The Walking Dead (in any iteration) and after a very promising start, I felt Outcast lacked a compelling narrative. That said, I was intrigued by Oblivion Song's premise - this book sees Kirkman focusing on another apocalyptic world, but one that's populated by monsters rather than zombies. We learn that a section of the city of Philadelphia was lost to a parallel dimension, and a decade later Nathan Cole toils to bring back those still alive and trapped in the hellish alien world. As this issue proceeds, however, it's clear that there's more to this story than just the tale of a lone hero on a rescue mission. I wouldn't say I loved this first issue, but it certainly intrigued me, and held my attention for every one of the bumper 34 pages. De Felici's art isn't the obvious fit for what appears to be a horror book, but his style fits Kirkman's script really well. There's enough questions posed in these pages to bring me back for issue #2 - I'm hoping this is the Kirkman book that I'm with for the duration. 7/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart
Image $3.99

Jo S: Connections, connections, connections… from the first page of this new Lemire-Sorrentino team-up, we’re searching for connections. Utterly devoid of initial explanation but heavy with Sorrentino’s finely detailed yet somehow distorted, partially obscured visuals, this book immediately grabs your sleeve and drags you into a maze littered with clues which seem impossible to connect together. This was going to be something special from the start, with this creative team working on a Lemire pet project developed over years but, for me, it’s Sorrentino’s work, monochromes picked into relief by Dave Stewart’s colours, which work like a sock-covered spanner to the face, and take Lemire’s complex and beguiling mystery up into the levels of ‘I will not get this of my mind until the next issue’. The technical skill in a double spread, with a bizarre perspective used to show all four walls of a small room in one panel, is visually mind-blowing; the daring use of reflection and transposition throughout shouts ‘Look, LOOK! Connections!’ - I will be there on the comic book shop doorstep waiting for the second issue of this to land. 10/10

James R: The promotional ads for this series describes Lemire and Sorrentino as 'the creative powerhouse team' - for once in advertising, this is underselling the artists involved. Gideon Falls feels note-perfect straight out the gate, and it's easy to see why. Lemire's notes at the back of the issue highlight just how long he's been incubating the story of Norton Sinclair - almost twenty years. It's a first issue that's drum-tight in terms of narrative, and as you'd expect from Andrea Sorrentino, it is beautiful - never has evil looked so good. A special mention to colourist Dave Stewart too - this is a book that naturally leans towards a darker palette, but he doesn't let that overwhelm the pages. The plot establishes the broken world and fractured mind of Sinclair, and the seemingly unconnected story of Father Fred, a Catholic priest setting up in a new parish following the mysterious death of the previous incumbent. Lemire weaves these two narratives together in masterful fashion, and left me desperate for more by the final page. It's great when a new release lives up to hype; Gideon Falls does just that - this should be an essential addition for all connoisseurs of great comics. 9/10

Matt C: A tale of faith, madness and evil with two very different individuals who are both set upon a collision course towards a life-altering mystery, Gideon Falls is as good as you’d expect from the combined talents of Andrea Sorrentino and Jeff Lemire. Lemire relies on a subtle unveiling of characterization, with motivations and demons revealed ever-so gradually, while Sorrentino employs his exquisite artistry to convey loneliness and emotional distance in a highly effective manner. Dave Stewart's colours provide a layer of impending doom, deep reds and stark shades of brown among the most effective tools in his palette. It’s difficult to gauge where this is heading, but it’s unquestionably a journey worth taking based on this highly impressive debut issue. 9/10

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Leonardo Romero & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Hawkeye #1 was one of the first series I picked up last year as I was just starting to get hooked on my comics habit, and it has been consistently in my favourites for every issue since. That first issue got me so excited - I’d spotted some little clues in the art, which might for all I knew have been inconsequential, and when they turned up as plot details in later instalment I was more smug than I care to admit, but I felt like I'd got to know Kate personally, and have been totally with her ever since. Kelly Thompson must have read my mind on this because this final issue in the story once again has, I think, a few little Easter eggs hidden for the fans - oh, Kelly! You do know what we like, don't you? I need also to mention that I'm writing this on Mother's Day, and that whilst I'm more barnacle goose than penguin when it comes to parenting, the page where mother and daughter are reunited, and Kate’s reaction to that, put a tear in this stone-hearted old dragon-mother’s eye. I'm going to miss this, Kelly, but I can't wait to see where you, and Kate, go next. 9/10

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