14 Oct 2018

Mini Reviews 14/10/2018

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: Ryan Cady
Art: Andrea Mutti & K. Michael Russell
Image/Top Cowe $3.99

Matt C: I love the central premise here - the universe has ended, but some 2,000 human survivors have made it to the void in a specially constructed vessel. Unfortunately it's only a fraction of the intended population, as the heat death of the universe was swifter than anticipated, and those that made it are left to grapple with the guilt and existential burden of being all that's left in existence... or are they? As is often the way, the story hinges around a murder, but while the mystery that pushes all the characters into action is engaging, it's the idea of being all alone in endless nothing that resonates strongly. It's marked as an 'ongoing', and at this stage it's not clear where it can go beyond the whodunnit scenario, but it's such a confident opening chapter that I'm prepared to take the journey into the darkness with it. 8/10

Jo S: Sci-fi fans, get your pocket money and head to your nearest purveyor of comics: this one is for you! Most famous (apparently) for his reviews of terrible fast food, Cady has dropped into the sci-fi writer role like it was built for him, with a really interesting premise for a space-based murder mystery. Security Director Deva Karrell is one of a tiny number of survivors of the heat death of the universe, inhabiting a giant ark designed to save humanity, now left mostly empty. Karrell’s day gets… complicated when the ship’s AI reports a crime. Inventiveness is the cornerstone of science fiction, and it's sad that so often we find ourselves saying ‘Been done before, yawn’, so it's great when a writer gifts us with something different, especially when the sci- part of the fi- is so richly part of a classic storyline. As an aside, I've been noticing the work of the letterer more in comics I've been reading recently; how the type of lettering, the shape, the colour of the bubble, all give additional clues about the speaker. I think that here I have made assumptions about the path of the story based on lettering rather than explicit description, and it will be interesting to see whether I've read correctly. 8/10

James R: Long-time readers know that I hold SF books up to a high standard as a fan - I'm always looking for a comic that does something interesting with the genre. I liked the pitch of Infinite Dark - a ship survives the accelerated heat death of the universe - but sadly, that's about all I enjoyed. Infinite Dark suffers from the same flaw that both the recent Port Of Earth and Paradiso did - in setting up the premise, the narrative becomes over-stuffed with explication. I was also disappointed by the look of the book too - it wasn't until 12 pages in that we get a feel for the sheer size and scale of the ship, The Orpheus, and that alone offered up more interesting story ideas and beats than the one explored here. As always, I'm full of admiration for any creative team that brings a comic to fruition, but this first issue simply wasn't for me. Science Fiction seems to be the toughest genre for comics to get right. 4/10

Writer: Christos Gage & Dan Slott
Art: Jorge Molina & David Curiel
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: As I suppose I could have guessed from a title which has access to all the Spiders, all the villains and all the multifarious-verses, there's a LOT going on in this first issue. Miles Morales has just about got himself sorted as THE Spider-Man of his particular corner of the Multiverse, when up pop an ominously large crowd of his alter-equivalents, swiftly introducing us to the idea that Inheritor tech is being used somewhere, somehow and that Miles needs to lead his team to resolve this. The action is fast and dynamic from the off, Cage gets the arachno-gang together effectively fast and manages to introduce us to a few of the characters quickly (not all, but that's a tough call for a team this big) and we meet some bad guys (don't tell anyone that my brain tracked through ‘Ooh, Doctor Strange! Wait, he's evil in this? Wait, why’s he talking about Count Nefaria? Ohhhh, that IS Count Nefaria’ or they'll take away my membership badge!). I have some concerns about the warning that not all of the story can be packed into one series - it's an interesting idea, having Slott as showrunner for a large suite of connected books but I'm not totally wild about parts of the story being held to ransom in different series, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: this was action-packed and fun, Miles makes a great lead, Molina’s art picked out the Spider-varietals cleanly and gave good movement in fight scenes; a promising anchor thread. But I know what you all want to know… yes, never fear, Peter Porker was IN, and so, therefore, am I. 8/10

Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguuilan & Sunny Gho
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: If Marvel were supposed to be laying off more politicly-charged storylines following the conclusion of Secret Empire then nobody seems to have informed Ta-Nehisi Coates that's the case. With a tale that deals with Russian factions preying on the disenfranchised masses of middle America, manipulating them for nefarious ends, it's clear exactly where Coates' mind is at here. Wrapping the story around a character who's currently not only disillusioned with his role in America, but with America itself, works brilliantly, as Cap has always displayed uncompromising resilience in the face of adversity. Trust is a rare commodity in the contemporary political climate as seen through Cap's eyes, but it's not paranoia that propels him but the belief that things should and can be better. Yu confidently captures the determination and dynamism of the Sentinel of Liberty and Coates gets his points across effectively without resorting to soapboxing. A link back to Brubaker's acclaimed run on the title seals the deal - Captain America is a vital read again. 8/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire:
Art: Wilfredo Torres & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: This will come as surprise to precisely no-one, but once again, I loved The Quantum Age. I'm obviously a huge Lemire fan (to the extent that our tireless EiC Matt C has already warned me that I can't vote for him for the PCG's Honorary Award again in this year's Paradoscars) and for me, the Black Hammer Universe is yet to put a foot wrong. The current issue of The Quantum Age really channels Black Hammer's knack for lovingly using the history of comics as a tonal setting - the opening sequence set at the foundation of the Legion analogue the Quantum League is written with the same fresh-faced optimism of the 1950s, before it shifts to a darker, more cynical mode as we reach 'now'. We learn just why Archive chose to come to Earth - and the terrible guilt he endured to be its saviour. Best of all, there's a final page revelation which pleased me immensely. The artists for all the Black Hammer titles have been great fits for the scripts, and Torres' work is no exception, expertly capturing the two tonal halves of the book. As we move towards the end of the year, there's still no range of titles I'm enjoying as much as these - The Quantum Age is an atomic-powered blast. 8/10

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