3 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 03/03/2019

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.

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Marco Checchetto & Sunny Gho
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: With a large of dose of trademark maudlin, Chip Zdarsky has introduced an intriguing mystery where we the reader are not entirely sure of Matt Murdock’s culpability. The events of the preceding issue seemed clear cut but these are comics and nothing is ever what it seems. As Daredevil refuses to accept the consequences of his actions, I too questioned whether the Man Without Fear had gone too far - masterful bit of manipulative writing by Zdarsky. The most interesting character in this issue, however, is the recently transferred Cole North, the incorruptible cop with a past who refuses to be cowed even when dwarfed by the hulking Wilson Fisk. Within the pages of these two issues Chip Zdarsky has effortlessly setup a Hell’s Kitchen where the status quo has been toppled, as its guardian seems to have crossed a line. This second issue is stronger than the first, moving elements of the plot forward where the former was mainly setting the scene, and what a scene it is! Marco Checchetto is bringing a style of art that perfectly suits the tight alleyways and open rooftops of New York and is slightly reminiscent of Leinel Francis Yu. Lamenting fans of the Netflix show should really get on board early with this volume of Daredevil; I have a feeling it may be story with a surprising payoff for which the foundations are being made now. 8/10

Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Adam Kubert & Frank Martin
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This latest series of Captain America always feels like it's on the cusp of greatness. It contains all the elements of a great run - Cap with his back against the wall, sinister forces conspiring to bring down America, commentary on the current political climate - but hasn't quite captured that spark that would push it into the upper echelons of Cap adventures. It still possesses the potential for achieving greatness, which is why I'm sticking around; there may be a sense of old ground being trodden in places but there's an underlying intelligence to the storytelling, and the theme of perception versus reality has genuine potency. Kubert keeps up a visual consistency with previous artist, Leinil Francis Yu, bending his style slightly but effectively, and there's a simmering mix of anger and intensity that ripples through the panels. Perhaps there's a requirement for more clearly defined villainy here - a more pronounced purpose - but it does dig into the aftermath of Secret Empire in a satisfactory manner, dealing with the fallout rather than taking the easy route of dismissing it to move someplace else with the character. 7/10

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Ryan Ottley, Alberto Alburquerque, Cliff Rathburn & Laura Martin
Marvel $4.99

Mike V: So here we are, officially on the 'Road to Hunted'. Spencer uses this issue to focus mostly on everyone's favourite fur-collar-wearing character (no, not the Dalmatian kind) and his motives for this upcoming story arc, touching upon the real life horrors - such as the rich paying for the opportunity to kill a rare animal - that have led Kraven down this path and some of the extreme choices he has made along the way. The last ten pages are used to tie up some loose ends from the previous issue and also set up how Spidey will become involved in Kraven's plans. Spencer does a good job fleshing out Kraven's story here whilst using Spidey in just five pages. The issue uses two artists, with Ottley responsible for all the Kraven story artwork and Alburquerque bringing the other pages to life. Alburquerque's style fits the panels well but has a more rough and jagged look to it compared to the more smooth-looking art of Ottley. The issue sets up the 'Hunted' story well and I look forward to seeing what events unfold in those issues. 7/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads & Tomeu Morey
DC $3.99

Jo S: This episode of King and Gerads’ astonishing work explores contrasts as we appear to delve deeper via flashback into the treatment programme offered by the Sanctuary to an interleaved set of players. Gnarrk arguably takes the lead role here, as the Sanctuary allows him to experience again the old world of his life before he was frozen in ice. His philosophising is eloquent, amusing, moving, full of simple contrasts between life and death, old and new but also more complex thoughts of the loss of nature's balance that comes with technology. He talks of stars, and Keats; if we're looking for answers on how to react to modern life, we could do worse that follow the wisdom of Gnarrk. Each strand of the braid of plotlines tugs at the emotions, often because we know these characters will soon meet their end and because they are tormented by contrast: Harley and Ivy's deep mutual reliance, Wally and Barry's heartbreaking reunion full of hope and despair, and a persisting sense of unease - what is illusion? What is memory? What is real? This creative team have such perfect synergy - toying with our emotions, drawing us along in the mystery - this is my most looked-forward-to book of the moment. 9/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: The last time we saw the heroes of Spiral City, things were getting a little meta, with Orson Randall discovering the Creator and the realisation that their story was one of a multitude, and now issue eight delivers another classic comics staple - the reboot. But, because this is Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, it's far from the traditional money-grab of a mainstream comic re-aunch - it's a subtle tale, introducing us to a Spiral City without heroes, and one that looks remarkably similar to our world... or is it? As always with Black Hammer, I'm knocked out by the confidence of Lemire and Ormston's storytelling - the alternate universe trope has been done many times before (that's exactly why it's being used here) but Lemire uses it do add another layer to the rich character development and the world of Black Hammer. Ormston continues to be simply spectacular here, and I love how skilfully he shifts between the mundane world of the city, and the sci-fi weirdness of Mars. This is still my favourite ongoing series by some margin - and that's quite an achievement given the quality of comics in 2019. Black Hammer remains a sensation. 9/10

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