10 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 10/03/2019

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.

MEET THE SKRULLS #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Art: Niko Henrichon & Laurent Grossat
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This is Secret Invasion by way of The Americans with a Skrull family hiding in plain sight on Earth, working to thwart a project to detect their race through their genetic disguises. Similarly to the aforementioned The Americans (one of the great television shows of the last decade, lest we forget), it's the family dynamic that provides the emotional focus, lending dramatic weight to the espionage activities carried out by the two adults/two children unit. Family meals are de facto mission reports, with each of the four relaying the progress of their individual infiltrations, although it appears one of them may be getting affected and distracted by the social environment they're operating in. A skilful, well-paced script and expertly rendered art that gives texture to the emotional repression of the cast combines into a comic that, if you'll excuse the pun, seems destined to become a sleeper hit. 8/10

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #9
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
DC $4.99

Jo S: Doomsday Clock issues are becoming the equivalent of a steak dinner for me: at two monthly intervals, they require a kind of comic book fast beforehand in order to be able to take it all in and substantial time to work my way through the meaty content, followed by a long nap and a period of inactivity in order to digest it all. The collected volume will be top of my Christmas list this year, as a full contiguous re-read is going to be a must - hopefully I won’t require a diet after such indulgence! Issue #9 is an event within an event, a watershed of sorts, and contains a character shift almost wholly towards DC rather than Watchmen personnel. It opens with a fleet of spaceships carrying a super-army of DC heroes towards Mars where Dr Manhattan awaits, deeply considering all of time at once. Other geekier sources than I have meticulously identified and carbon-dated everyone who appears but suffice to say it’s a huge cast, and the big blue guy has a fight of mythic proportions on his hands. Back on Earth, the Supermen Theory is being blown open as a very different story of Firestorm’s origins emerges, and Wonder Woman’s role takes a different direction from the other Justice League stalwarts. Johns packs an astounding quantity into this issue (though it feels strange to have lost contact with most of the Watchmen-based characters; one assumes, temporarily) but it is something of a relief to find an issue of this series where I reached the end feeling I had understood at least a majority of what had just happened. Frank’s art continues to be absolutely magnificent: he deviates from the nine-panel grid at times in this issue, making the action impossibly more rapid and complex, and his ability to render anguish, horror, shock, disgust on faces so immediately recognisable shows what a towering talent he is. 8/10

BATMAN #66
Writer: Tom King
Art: Jorge Fornés & Dave Stewart
DC $3.99

James R: After Joshua Williamson's brief crossover event 'The Price', it's back to the main event in Gotham. Tom King returns to Batman with a beautiful issue that encapsulates everything great about his tenure here. It's a noir-infused reminder of the current state of play between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne. The extra treat this time comes in the shape of the art from Jorge Fornés. The Spanish artist did an amazing job on Dynamite's superb Magnus miniseries in 2017, and it's brilliant to see him bringing his talents to bear on the Dark Knight. At one point, his recreation of David Mazzucchelli's classic work on Batman: Year One borders on the uncanny. This issue acts as a timely reminder that despite their failure to tie the knot, Batman and Catwoman are not done yet. Atmospheric, rich, and a terrific fusion of two extremely talented creative forces - once again, Batman sets the standard for books from the Big Two. 9/10

GREEN ARROW #50
Writers: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Art: Javier Fernandez & John Kalisz
DC $4.99

Mike V: Where do I begin with this? The final issue of Green Arrow (at least of the 'Rebirth' era), which was released on the same day it was announced that the Arrow TV series will end with Season 8, marked a sad moment for us Green Arrow fans. The writing team of Kelly and Lanzing have done a good job with this issue. Sadly, it seems like they had to rush to an ending of this arc before the story could be fully fleshed out, though it still showcases Ollie and Dinah's relationship perfectly and sets up some things that will definitely have an effect on Ollie, Dinah and Co in the future, and on the DC Universe in general. The real MVP in this issue is the artwork: Fernandez's art really sets the scene of the action and keeps you on the edge of your seat: every time Black Canary is in a panel he captures the emotion in her face perfectly, whether it be anger, determination or sadness, his work demands your empathy. This is helped further by Kalisz's fantastic colours, bringing these pages alive with a gritty, toned down scheme that fits the story perfectly. I personally hope that these two get to work together again, perhaps in a return for the Black Canary solo series? DC's decision to end this title when its current creative team started only two issues ago seems surprising but may be be based on a desire to bring Green Arrow to the bigger part of the DCU, at least according to Dan DiDio. We can only speculate where or when we will get to see the Emerald Archer next but we know one thing for sure - he will return. 8/10

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