24 Feb 2019

Mini Reviews 24/02/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

LOVE ROMANCES #1
Writers: Gail Simone, Margaux Motin, Pacco Dorwling-Carter, Dennis ‘Hopeless’ Hallum & Jon Adams
Art: Rogê Antônio, Jim Charalampidis, Margaux Motin, Pacco Dorwling-Carter, Lee Loughridge, Annapaola Martello, Jon Adams & Tamra Bonvillain
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Having explained in my On The Pull piece last week that I was interested in this one-shot ‘for the robots’, I couldn’t help a snort of laughter on reading the back matter and noting that this was produced in a seven-decades old tradition of Marvel romance comics, originally “spawned by a desire to lure older female readers away from romance pulps…” Yes, well, I guess that’s me suckered then! Four tales of non-standard romance find their way into this tribute to the 1940s phenomenon of comics for older female readers (arches an eyebrow at the camera) such as me, two of which feature the expected robo-romantics: 'The Widow And The Clockwork Heart' leads the suite, a story of a future version of our society which has remembered the need for romance, and restructured itself to ensure its paramountcy. Simone builds a neat twist into this which I want to deny caught me out, but can’t - it’s so neatly executed. 'Heartbroken From Beyond' is a sweet exploration of loss and the start of recovery, touchingly told without words. 'French Quartered' is melodrama; harking back to stories of daughters trapped by overprotective parents, breaking free to find true love with a dark edge. My favourite, though, is easily the last story: 'Gone Like The Wind' confirms that beauty may be skin deep but love can still be shallow, especially when you’re a consciousness downloaded into a lower-spec-than-ordered permanent robot replacement body. Jon Adams pokes fun at some of the clichés of long term relationships, skewering some of the excuses we make to justify our behaviour and still managing to make some kind of happy ending, albeit 200 years and an alien invasion in the making. 8/10

MIDDLEWEST #4
Writer: Skottie Young
Art: Jorge Corona & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Image $3.99

Mike V: Skottie Young brings us the fourth installment of his new fantasy adventure Middlewest and it has been a good ride to date. The story follows Abel and his companion Fox (yes, an actual fox) on their continued journey to find out more about, and possibly even cure, the mark that has inflicted Abel and is having a growing effect on the world around him. This issue primarily focuses on a carnival and deals with the pair looking for someone who may hold all the answers, just trying survive and the lengths they will go to in order to achieve this. I get a nostalgic '80s movie kind of feel - Stand By Me comes to mind. Jorge Corona's artwork and the colours of Jean-Francois Beaulieu are outstanding: they bring this comic alive and keep your eyes glued to the page, poring over each panel and admiring all the little details on display. Skottie Young has created a whole new world here that keeps on expanding with each issue, and  it feels like it really exists thanks to the superb work of the art team. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of what this world has to offer. 8/10

EAST OF WEST #41
Writer: Jonathan HIckman
Artists: Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
Image 3.99

James R: We are now approaching the 6th anniversary of East Of West's debut, and looking back on that first issue it seems the real world has changed an awful lot - and sadly not for the better. As a result, Hickman and Dragotta's alt-Earth SF-Western epic has ended up feeling like the perfect title for these troubled times. Many of East of West's huge cast of characters are driven by greed, a lust for power, and a win-at-all costs mentality, holding up a cracked mirror to today's world. I've seen this title collected in some very handsome volumes and, if you're considering going all in, I'd certainly recommend consuming it in that format. One of its joys has been seeing the creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta become almost as one: Dragotta has delivered some phenomenal art on this title, and he's impeccable here again. A moment as small (but significant) as a character opening an eye is delivered with the same brilliance as one of the vast vistas that make up East Of West's backdrop. As for Hickman's script, it remains both sharp and yet opaque - there's the sense that we're entering the final stages of the war for America (and the world beyond) but we've been at a similar stage before and Hickman has always shifted the finale beyond the obvious. This remains wonderfully idiosyncratic, and with each passing month, it's the book our age deserves. 8/10

CATWOMAN #8
Writer: Joëlle Jones
Art: Elena Casagrande, Fernando Blanco & John Kalisz
DC $3.99

Kenny J: My favourite thing about this latest volume of Catwoman is Jones’ ability to swap from hard-boiled crime to action to chilling horror within the space of one issue. As we continue to follow the machinations of Mrs. Creel, a figure from Gotham’s criminal underground is also reintroduced, one that knows how to push Selina’s buttons, throwing her into desperation. This panic is expertly rendered in several panels of uncharacteristic violence by Casagrande in between that sublime action and those creepy figures. It is in these extreme moments that Kalisz’s colours shine, picking out Kyle’s shining black costume framed in minimalistic red or blue or brown. It seems that Catwoman and Creel are now mirroring one another's escalating despair as they try to protect their loved ones or regret what happened to those they didn’t. This is sure to boil into a huge conclusion further down the line and I am enjoying the slow burn as Jones lines up the pieces, introduces new elements and piling the pressure on Selina. It is sure to be seen as a classic Catwoman run in years to come. 7/10

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