2 Dec 2018

Mini Reviews 02/12/2018

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.

THE WARNING #1
Writer: Edward Laroche
Art: Edward Laroche & Brad Simpson
Image $3.99

Jo S: A glaring omission from my On The Pull piece for this week; I totally missed this one in Previews but luckily it was pointed out by my local comic book store owner and wow, am I grateful! The artwork was what drew me to this - the first few pages immediately grab: they’re spacious and clean, with minimal text but an immediate atmosphere of intrigue and depth, a soliloquy on reincarnation from a battle-ready soldier. Laroche meddles with the time sequence in this story to excellent effect, telling parts of the narrative in reverse to add to the mystery. I love a comic where the imagery and text each tell their own part of the story: Laroche develops his characters ably here via the artwork, keeping the text for moving the action forward. Giving much more away about this futuristic sci-fi would lead to spoilers but suffice to say that I see much promise in this and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. 8/10

HEROES IN CRISIS #3
Writer: Tom King
Art: Lee Weeks, Clay Mann & Tomeu Morey
DC $3.99

Matt C: This enthralling superhero murder mystery takes a few steps back in time to gives us more of an inkling into how Sanctuary operates and where things started to go wrong. Characterization that scrapes away the surface to reveal the dark truths that lie beneath is key here, and King pulls out believable anxieties from his cast with a blend of subtlety and shocks. Mann takes a back seat on illustrative duties to give Weeks his turn in the spotlight, and following his recent stint on Batman the artist confirms he's on a career-best streak with visual dynamism and perceptible emotion projecting from each page. There are answers to questions here, but they generate even more questions, and the mystery becomes substantially more complicated as a result. This is an event book but it's one that doesn't follow the standard blockbuster formula; it's relatively low key, unnerving and surprising, and consequently it sinks in deeper than most, lingering where most hackneyed punch-ups would dissipate swiftly. 8/10

James R: Tom King rounds off his spectacular year with another fine book, and the mystery of Heroes In Crisis grows even more murky. What really works for me is King's use of time - rather than setting the plot in motion with the murders in issue #1, and then having DC's big guns track down the perpetrator, King has kept winding the clock back, as we see the events of the Sanctuary massacre played over and again, from different perspectives, each one revealing new information, whilst keeping the truth at bay. Once again, it's a beautiful looking piece, with Lee Weeks filling in admirably between the bookend pages of Clay Mann. A large part of the seamless transition is due to the great colour work from Tomeau Morey - it all adds up to make one of the classiest event books I can recall. Sophisticated, compelling and surprising - Heroes In Crisis is capping a great year for DC. 8/10

DC'S NUCLEAR WINTER SPECIAL #1
Writer: Various
Art: Various
DC $9.99

Jo S: Holiday specials are generally the very definition of a mixed bag, and I went into this hoping for a jolly lucky dip, fully expecting to find a few shiny baubles next to the odd lump of coal. And so it was. First the shiny: the theme used to tie the stories together in this special is funny and clever - there’s always a forced element to some extent with a themed anthology, and the idea of Rip Hunter having to tell stories of the DC universe to keep from being cannibalised by rogue employees of the mighty Oogle corporation is as good as any device I’ve seen. There is some terrific artwork in the book as a whole; there are no duds in this respect, with inventive page structure, rich colour and plenty of action. But then there’s the coal end of Santa’s list. I don’t often get on my high horse about diversity in comics; I’ve been surprised in the two years I’ve been doing this seriously at how well represented women are on the whole but I really have to take a giant issue with this book. There are 44 creator credits on the title page, with only four women listed. This alone would not cause me pause - there simply are more prominent male creators out there currently, I’m aware of this. Of the ten stories in the book, two have female leads; again, not great, but I get it - DC have a lot of male heroes. The two female-led stories are both about the responsibility of motherhood being thrust upon someone who was not expecting it - this is a bit disappointing; it would have been fun to see a greater variety of storylines than the stereotypical strong-woman-is-also-caring, twice over. What really has me ticked off is the cover of this book. Four characters feature: in order of prominence; Kamandi, Wonder Woman, Batman and, very much in the forefront, Harley Quinn. Both Wonder Woman and Harley are, bluntly, showing a lot of leg - not unusual, again (to be totally fair on the visible skin front, Kamandi’s wearing cut-offs and boots and nothing else) but here’s the kicker - Wonder Woman doesn’t lead a story in this collection and Harley? Harley doesn’t appear anywhere in the book. Her image is used entirely as eye-candy, I suspect with the cynical knowledge that it is her image which sells comics. This is just not good enough, DC - you need to do better. 5/10

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