25 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 25/11/2018

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.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE #1
Writer: Ralph Macchio
Art: Flaviano & Erick Arciniega
Marvel $4.99

Jo S: Having pledged not to fall for the temptation of a completist approach to the 'Spider-Geddon-Spider-Verse' event, and sworn that I would just get the Spider-Geddon limited series and that would be IT, I got myself suckered in by that li’l rascal Spider-Ham yet again and it was totally worth it! For reasons which didn’t totally stick with me, a small band of Spidey entities from five different universes have broken away from the horrendous Inheritor-centred crisis they had been involved in and sworn to travel the Spider-Verse using wrist teleporters to do good wherever they can, possibly as penance for having lost a couple of their team members to the Inheritor invasion. Macchio’s writing is quick, witty, sensitive; it’s packed with action and references to classic Spidey tales. Flaviano and Arciniega together produce something perfect for this team - plenty of PWANG, BWOK, CRUNCH, THWUNK (and that’s just from one page) and all the bright colours and action any Peter Porker fan could ask for. A web-net bulging with fun. 8/10

BATMAN #59
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mike Janin & Jordie Bellaire
DC $3.99

Matt C: The long game. We’ve seen a succession of short, punchy arcs from King in this series, and they can generally stand on their own (to a certain extent), but there’s always been a hint of a larger story working in the background - of strings being pulled - and perhaps we see the architect of those machinations here. The writer is still very much keeping the aftermath of the fiftieth issue in play, and this manifests itself in a somewhat shocking scene, highlighting how close to the edge the Dark Knight currently is. There’s one particular panel that hit especially hard, containing a single word - ‘Love’ - and it a testament not only to King’s skill at weaving his tale but also Janin and Bellaire’s ability to capturing the tone and intent perfectly. Batman should be on everyone’s pull-lists right now because it’s as good as serial superhero storytelling gets. 8/10

WEST COAST AVENGERS #4
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Stefano Caselli & Triona Farrell
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: I’m not sure if Thompson and Caselli have worked together before this inaugural arc of West Coast Avengers but the combination of words and art breathes life into the relationships of the fledgling teammates. This is mostly through pinpoint comic timing and verbal sparring. Although I have found B.R.O.D.O.K an amusing take on a classic villain, I have never once thought of him or his scheme as a real threat even to this young team (well, young and Clint Barton). Other members of the PCG have suggested that the nasty scheme is a representation toxic masculinity. Going back to read the first three issues of this series I can definitely see how this could be the case. However, this would make this a rather unsatisfactory conclusion, with the victims getting a single panel between them to unravel their ordeal. On lighter level, West Coast Avengers has set up some fantastic characters and relationships - Gwenpool and Quentin Quire being particular favourite - as well as dynamic for the book that I hope carries forward, especially with all the future plot points that are teased. 7/10

MARVEL KNIGHTS: 20TH #2
Writers: Matthew Rosenberg & Donny Cates
Art: Niko Henrichon
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Matt Rosenberg gets a chance to write material that's a little more mature, a bit darker, than some of the content I initially loved from him, but MK20 has really been a breakout surprise for me. The mystery shrouding the initial release meant there wasn’t really enough to hype but its rollout is brilliantly puzzling and breaks the mould of super-team building, in that no one initially knows they’re being recruited to a team - or even that they are themselves super. This issue moves back and forth in time to give us contrast between Castle and Banner’s perspective and that of a grieving Murdock. Niko Henrichon picks up the pencils put down by Travel Foreman after issue #1: his action scenes are gritty and detailed; I like the dynamism of punches thrown and a mighty kick to the head by the newest member of the cast. Though some sections were a little inconsistent in terms of facial proportions, he captures Castle’s face of fury at being thwarted brilliantly, especially following a window box full of plants exploding over his head. I’m not totally sure the rolling cast of contributors is entirely going to work, but the intrigue of the storyline has definitely piqued my curiosity for further developments. 7/10

COVER #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Mack
DC/Jinxworld $3.99

Matt C: A striking artistic display on all accounts. Bendis humanizes an outlandish scenario with an emotional palate that resonates, easing forward the story via patter that is both illuminating and realistic. And then there’s Mack’s artwork, which runs through an extraordinary display of styles and tones, each creating its own vibe and intensity (we even venture into Walt-Simonson-armoured-warrior territory at one point). It could have played out as an in-joke – comics creator is secret CIA agent! - but it’s told with enough plausibility, mixed with a healthy amount of danger and unease, to get right under the skin. The writing touches on truth and the art burrows into that truth to reveal things that enlighten and transfix. A relentlessly impressive example of the possibilities of the comic book medium. 8/10

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