1 Jul 2018

Mini Reviews 01/07/2018

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.

KILL OR BE KILLED #20
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $3.99

James R: Recently on social media, I've seen a few people complaining that comics reviews are essentially recaps rather than evaluations. I think here at the PCG we try hard to avoid this, giving broad narrative themes rather than minutiae. The final issue of Kill Or Be Killed provides an even bigger challenge though - the very nature of this coda relies on two wonderful feints and misdirections from Ed Brubaker. As a result, I don't want to risk ruining the experience for potential readers, and so all I'll say is that Kill Or Be Killed finished in the same way it began - by subverting expectations and serving up a story that was a fresh twist on the well-trod vigilante theme. The team of Brubaker, Phillips and Brietweiser know and complement each other so well, it's hard to imagine them creating a sub-par comic book now (and I'm already looking forward to the next collaboration, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, in October). Kill Or Be Killed has been a treat, and it's one of those books that, if you've missed in its initial run, I highly recommend picking up in trade. A brilliant final issue totally in keeping with the rest of the series, Kill Or Be Killed #20 was a deadly good read. 9/10

Matt C: When this issue was announced as being the last a couple of months back it felt too soon, like there was more of the story to be told, but lo and behold it turns out to be exactly the right moment to wrap the tale of Dylan Cross and his possibly demon-inspired vigilante killing spree. To go into further detail would spoil the genius twisty use of the unreliable narrator trope as it concludes in a way that may seem to have an initial air of predictability about it but is actually delivered in a way that is devious, surprising and entirely satisfying. Brubaker and Phillips continue to be arguably the most synergistic partnership in comics, and after the resounding success of Kill Or Be Killed we should all be placing our orders now for their next collaboration, the graphic novel My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, due for release in October. Yes, that’s a blatant plug because we know these guys will deliver the goods! 9/10

MARVEL 2-IN-ONE #7
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Ramon K. Perez & Federico Blee
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Bizarrely, this title is making me wish they’d hold off on relaunching the Fantastic Four series a while longer – it has been so much fun, I don’t want it to end just yet! Zdarsky has succeeded by capturing the core characters so well – Ben’s tortured humanity, Johnny’s hotrod impetuousness, Doom’s rampant ego – and by placing them in such an inventive and entertaining plotline that it gives those characters a chance to shine, brightly. We’ve had three different artists across seven issues now, and while visual consistency is always appreciated, they’ve all provided some suitably adventurous imagery, and Perez doesn’t disappoint here. We get Reed and Sue back soon, which is great, but this book will be sorely missed all the same. 8/10

DESCENDER #31
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Image $3.99

James R: I love moments like this in all forms of storytelling: the time when the different narrative threads get woven together, building to huge denouement. After thirty-one superb issues, Descender is drawing to a close. For me, one of the thrills of reading a comic is staying with a title over a number of years, and then enjoying the payoff. Lemire and Nguyen hold nothing back in this issue as Tim-21, Tesla, Andy, Driller and the Harvesters all come in to play as the fate of the galaxy hang in the balance. As always with Lemire's books, the narrative is grounded in a relatable, human perspective, and that gives the explosive thrilling action a great counterpoint. On one hand I'm sad that Descender is coming to and end but, on the other, this book has been a thrilling ride, and one of the most visually striking science fiction books I've ever read. 8/10

Matt C: The penultimate instalment of this very fine sci-fi epic ratchets up the intensity levels to the max as the future hangs in the balance for both organic and artificial beings alike. It’s the strength of the characterization that’s enabled the series to anchor itself emotionally – you genuinely feel for the cast as they try to survive the dangerous events unfurling while simultaneously attempting to wrestle their own personal demons. It’s dramatic and affecting with the luxuriousness of Nguyen’s beautiful painted artwork ensuring an immersive experience. It perhaps hasn't gained the attention of some of Lemire’s other work but it will easily stand up next to his very best. 8/10

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