11 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 11/11/2018

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: Grant Morrison
Art: Liam Sharp & Steve Oliff
DC $4.99

James R: For reasons I've never quite fathomed, Green Lantern has never worked for me as a character. In principle, he should - I love science-fiction, and the world of the Lanterns shaped by Julius Schwartz is absolutely prime SF. But still, I've never really read an arc or an issue featuring DC's space cop that's grabbed me. I was very hopeful that Grant Morrison could change my mind with The Green Lantern; he's got a great track record of revitalising characters and honing in on what makes them great. With both New X-Men and All-Star Superman, the first issues were both remarkable reads and clear mission statements about the characters. This issue however, didn't reach the same heights. It's a pretty standard re-introduction to Hal Jordan, whom Morrison portrays as a man out of place in the everyday world, but perfectly at home as the defender of space sector 2814. It doesn't help that (as a personal aesthetic choice) I don't really love Liam Sharp's art style - I'm in awe of all comics artists but there's something about these pages that didn't draw me in. An issue like this should make you feel excited for what's to come but The Green Lantern left me feeling as ambivalent about Hal Jordan as ever. 5/10

Matt C: Grant Morrison is one of the most revered comic book writers of the past few decades; cerebral, inventive and audacious, his name attached to a project automatically generates a lot of interest. Personally, I’ve never considered myself much of a fan; for every book of his I’ve loved - We3, All-Star Superman – there have been plenty of others which I’ve not got on with at all (his long run on various Batman books several years ago just didn’t connect with me in any meaningful way). Still, a supposed back-to-basics approach to Green Lantern piques my interest, although simplifying a complicated mythos possibly isn’t something that Morrison is best placed to do. I’ve not paid much attention to Green Lantern since Blackest Night, but the ‘Space Police’ concept has plenty of appeal; unfortunately, or perhaps unsurprisingly, I just couldn’t get on with this. Sharp’s art has a nice retro flavour, a pleasingly British take on intergalactic action, but I failed to connect with Morrison’s script. It felt like he’d written it for himself rather than an audience, and anyone looking for a way in (or, in my case a way back in) could possibly come away with less understanding of where the character is at than they did coming in. 5/10

Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Travel Foreman, Derek Fridolfs & Matt Milla
Marvel $4.99

Jo S: I remember the challenge of penning my Shipping Forecast piece for this book - Donny Cates and his team kept their cards very close to their chests before its release and so, I'm afraid, must I, because YOU should read this, and I don't want to spoil anything for you! Helpfully, I don't have to hide everything , as the cover gives (I think) a helpful cast ensemble; Daredevil is clearly front and centre and you can probably identify a number of other familiar faces with a small investment of time. Our story begins then, with Matt Murdock, devastated, confused, lost, at the tombstone of Karen Page, and a mystery unfolds as we discover that Murdock remembers nothing; his own name, his life as hero or non-hero - even Karen's significance is lost - and he's not the only one. Foreman’s art is clean and simple, Cates' writing is spare and keeps the mystery tight whilst moving along at a good pace: I didn't know what to expect from this with so little forward information but was very happily surprised by the content. 8/10

Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mikel Janin & Jordie Bellaire
DC $3.99

James R: Slowly the pieces are starting to come together. One of the myriad joys of Tom King's Batman run is how the the arcs can be read in isolation as stand-alone stories, but there have been hints at a larger insidious scheme at work and, in this issue, the veil slowly begins to lift. It's obviously unclear just what Bane is planning from inside the shadows of Arkham but the Penguin is the latest villain to be pulled into the plot. I always try to avoid comparing comics to other media but this feels like a superhero comic as realised by prestige TV channel like HBO - from a deft 'pre-credits' sequence to the scintillating cliff hanger, this is undoubtedly great stuff. I also love how King embraces the entire history and mythos of Batman - for all the sophisticated storytelling on display here, there's also the thrill of Batman landing a punch with a '60s Adam West-inspired 'POW!' As usual, Mikel Janin's art is fantastic, and perfectly complemented by Jordie Bellaire's palette, which captures the glow of TV monitors and rain-lashed Gotham streets wonderfully. As a Batman fan, this series is really the gift that keeps on giving and it's arguably the best ongoing title published by the Big Two. 8/10

Writer: Rob Guillory
Art: Rob Guillory & Taylor Wells
Image $3.99

Jo S: Rob Guillory wraps up the first arc of what I feel has been a sorely underrated series, with shock after shock shaking Freetown's residents. Guillory has peeled back layers of mystery surrounding Jedidiah's miraculous-but-horrific farm produce over just five issues but each has been so packed with detail, intrigue, touches of humour and twisting storylines that I can barely believe it has been just a handful of copies. This final episode, wherein we discover more gruesome details of the back story of Jedidiah and erstwhile collaborator Monica Thorne, and evidence that the Jenkins Farm security may not be keeping its technological secrets well-contained, has a huge amount going on and is a hugely entertaining read. Guillory and Wells’ artwork is perfect - it has been central to the atmosphere of the series throughout, but has really outdone itself in this final episode, with a grungy style, reminiscent of Jamie Hewlett's Gorillaz, generating horror by the means of images which are close to normal but unnervingly twisted. I will be back for the second arc. 8/10

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