25 Mar 2018

Mini Reviews 25/03/2018

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: Max Bemis
Art: Michael Dialynas
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: The only issue #1 in my pull-list this week was a long shot, but my attention was caught by Max Bemis as writer, following lots of positive noise about his work on Moon Knight, and Lucy Dreaming’s place was secured because it’s from BOOM! Studios, who are generating a number of my current ‘outsider’ favourites. Moody teenager Lucy hides from a world she finds infuriating within a series of books about strong female leads, trying to be invisible from other teens and her irritatingly cute and still-in-love-even-though-it’s-gross parents. After suddenly developing strange gold eyes, Lucy experiences a dream of astonishing lucidity… It may sound a little twee, compared with my regular fare of giant robots and gruesome comic horror, but I really enjoyed this first episode. The writing is clever, snappy and funny, playing tricks with tropes and clichés, and the artwork is fun and colourful, almost like an issue of the Beano but with the colours of a pick’n’mix display. Enough intrigue is built into this chapter to bring me back for more - and what ARE Lucy’s parents up to in that bedroom…? 8/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: As the ‘Death of the Mighty Thor’ story arc hurtles towards its conclusion, Aaron, Dauterman and Wilson are firing on all cylinders, unleashing a mix of colour, dynamism, thrills and, perhaps more than anything, heart. There’s been an inevitability to this tale ever since it started rolling but even with all that in mind it would take someone with zero interest in these characters (and zero feelings, for that matter) not to be affected by the wave of bittersweet emotion that emanates from this issue. The Odinson displays raw hurt and desperation, Freyja is all inspired empowerment, Odin’s a prick, and Jane Foster…? Jane Foster is the very essence of heroism personified, risking it all because worthy sacrifice is something that matters, even to those who don’t realise it at the time (Odin!). A bright, beautiful and heartfelt celebration of someone who has stepped into some familiar Asgardian boots and proved she could soar just as highly as the original wielder of a certain enchanted mallet; perhaps even higher. 9/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Image $3.99

James R: Me choosing a Lemire comic as my pick of the week certainly isn't a surprise but, hand-on-heart, he continues to produce book after book that just captivate me. With Descender, the short 'Old Worlds' arc has been a joy. In the last issue, Lemire and Nguyen took us back in time to show us the first meeting of the humanoids with the robots we now know as the Descenders. This second issue shows us the price of arrogance - the brave scientist Osiris, who looked to free his culture from the shackles of old superstition and religion, ends up cursing them by failing to see that the intelligent machines he creates should be treated as equals rather than slaves. As well as being a taut and involving read, it also serves as a big reveal for the story, and it's one that promises a thrilling resolution to this series. It continues to look beautiful - on some pages, Nguyen's lines could almost be called minimal, but the sense of scale and grandeur they create are spectacular. Descender shows no sign of sliding - this is a brilliant series. 9/10

Writer: Eddie Gorodetsky & Marc Andreyko
Art: Stephen Sadowski & Hi-Fi Colour Design
Image $3.99

Jo S: This episode in the life of washed-up superhero turned corporate shill Wilson would be worth it for the back matter alone, wherein Gorodetsky and Andreyko give us essays on the topics of Cliché and High School respectively. Gorodetsky’s piece in particular is excellent, exploring his theory that ideas which have been dismissed as tropes in sitcoms have generated the majority of reality TV setups, and it secures my ol’ pal Eddie a barstool should he ever choose to come and hang out with us. That said, the story itself is a real pleasure - the writing team really tease out the awkwardness of middle age, Wilson’s gentle resignation to his failure, the tension between fathers and sons, the horror of a school reunion and all the tropes that go with it. Nick’s once-more budding relationship with his high school flame is written to perfection - sweet but not cloying, humorous without being corny. The superhero aspects of this story are just a framework on which to spin a character-filled tale which the word ‘sitcom’, whilst accurate, seems insufficient to describe. 8/10

Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Geoff Shaw & Antonio Fabela
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I absolutely love the unbridled pomposity that exudes from every page of this series. It definitely feels like the right approach when dealing with characters who could scratch the side of their noses and the results would have untold cosmic significance for the multiverse (or at least in their eyes it would). Where else are you going to find a black Silver Surfer, redubbed the Fallen One, wielding Mjolnir after spending millennia attempting to be worthy, battling two iterations of Thanos and an intergalactic Ghost Rider who has something of an, um, punishing past? Well, nowhere else, of course – this is the kind of energetic, inspired lunacy you can only really find in comic books that leave the confines of the planet Earth behind. It’s relentless in its onslaught (it’s basically an extended punch-up), but it’s relentlessly entertaining; all of Cates’ outlandish ideas stick,  and they're rendered with pure vigour by Shaw, finished off with a darkly oppressive sheen of fiery colours by Fabela. A tale of the Mad Titan with a pleasing emphasis on the ‘mad’ side of things. 8/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus & June Chung
DC $2.99

James R: I know that Tom King's run on Batman continues to polarise - whereas Mister Miracle is rightfully lauded by all and sundry, his work on Batman is a little too unorthodox for some. For my part, I continue to love what he's doing. We've often said here that one of the great challenges in mainstream comics is finding new ways to re-invigorate characters that have been in constant publication for (at least) fifty years. Tom King's run has focused on the psychological cost of being Batman - the dynamic between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle has shown that part of their attraction is based in their damaged childhoods, and how they recover. The theme of dealing with trauma is front and centre in this issue too, as we learn that Poison Ivy is living with the guilt of her choices during the 'War of Jokes and Riddles'. It's a remarkable book that culminates not with a huge action sequence but with an embrace. Once again, maybe not everyone's idea of what Batman should be, but I found it ingenious. A special mention too to Hugo Petrus in this issue - his fill-in pages for Mikel Janin were absolutely seamless. I never thought I'd type the words "I can't wait to see how the Batman wedding issues play out" but such is the joy of comics fandom! 8/10

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