30 Sept 2018

Mini Reviews 30/09/2018

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: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann & Tomeu Morey
DC $3.99

Jo S: Mann and Moreau must have had a blast putting together the cover of this issue - any comics fan would be able to find a favourite in the huge crowd scene and with no shortage of big characters and plenty of prior information suggesting a plotline featuring a major cull of heroes, there's a distinct air of deadpool (lowercase intended) bingo about that image. There’s undeniable pressure on Tom King to keep every new venture up to the astonishing standard of the Batman and Mister Miracle series this year and there is, I think, always enormous pressure on the first issue of an ensemble story, with the writer needing to get us up to speed with the team dynamic quickly: obviously, when you’re working with the Justice League, there's no need to waste time with introductions, but nonetheless King works in clever elements of the way Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman mesh as a team. I loved Mann’s distinct style for each of the Trinity; Superman’s concern, Batman’s scowling control freakery, Wonder Woman's tenderness as she gently closes the eyes of a fallen colleague. King’s distressing story gripped me, giving horrifying tragedy, eloquent character study and a twist: it's very possible he might have pulled off yet another hit. 8/10

Matt C: Via his acclaimed work on Mister Miracle, and more pertinently, Batman, it was only a matter of time before Tom King was handed his own event book and unsurprisingly, while it adheres to a certain blockbuster template, it has a somewhat unconventional approach to the task at hand, entering the tale from a vastly different angle than many other writers would take (Harley vs Booster isn’t the most obvious confrontation to stick front and centre). That’s really in its favour, as the idea of traumatised superheroes can be a hard sell, with a certain deconstructionism to the paradigm in play, which can perhaps undermine the idea of the untouchable, the larger-than-life, in some eyes. There are high profile deaths here, deaths that you know will be reversed (probably sooner rather than later), and that neuters their impact, the shock factor not registering in the most effective manner. The series I can point to as a the best indicator of what this new book is doing is Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis; a more adult take on the icons. It’s not the most convincing opener (Mann’s wondrous art is exempt from any criticism though) but King’s track record is evidence enough that the remaining eight instalments will be essential. 7/10

James R: Event books are, more often than not, a let down. The high-concept plot sometimes falls flat, or the event is an excuse to push a whole slew of tie-ins on the comics reading public. Heroes In Crisis feels very different though: Tom King's script is on the money straight away, weaving a compelling narrative without resorting to big, flashy action scenes. The story focuses on Sanctuary, a robot therapist built to help the traumatised heroes of the DCU, who has fallen victim to a mysterious attack. The assault has also claimed the lives of the heroes seeking respite with Sanctuary - but who is behind the atrocity? King's great script is matched by Clay Mann's wonderful art - it's easily one of the year's best-looking books. I had a feeling that this title would be the crowning glory in what's been a great year for DC's books - and this first issue confirms it. A confident first chapter that promises a memorable eight more issues to come. 9/10

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
DC $4.99

Matt C: I don’t expect the true brilliance of this series will fully reveal itself until it’s completed, the density of the twisty narrative being thoroughly absorbing on the journey, but the shape of the destination remaining obscured. A certain blue-skinned omnipotent being finally makes an appearance in this issue, but his non-linear view of time generates far more questions than answers (a confrontation with Superman an imagined or expected future?), his grand plan foggy while Veidt’s becomes clearer, more dastardly. It’s astonishing seeing these characters interact together, especially when so exquisitely rendered by Gary Frank, but maybe more astonishing still is how Geoff Johns is taking anything but the predictable path, referencing the celebrated forebear but constructing something smart and unexpected from the dangling narrative threads. It won’t see completion until summer 2019, but every issue so far has proven to be worth the wait. 8/10

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Mark Torres
Image $3.99

Jo S: Cullen Bunn must have antifreeze running through his veins; this chilly, spooky mystery has me shivering despite a clear blue sky outside and sunshine streaming through my window. Masterfully eking out the story a little at a time, Bunn kept me gripped as the intrigue surrounding the Quarrels and their island home expands and deepens. My concern before fully reading issue #1 over Torres’ art has dispersed like mist on a blazing hot morning: it would be easy to overdo the Halloween-y spiderwebs and creepy eyeliner vibe here but Torres’ work is instead consistently classy and atmospheric, amplifying the sense of unease with a skin-crawling feeling that there is something just out of sight. 7/10

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