17 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 17/03/2019

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.

ASSASSIN NATION #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Image $3.99

James R:  I wanted to pick up Assassin Nation on the strength of some excellent pages - and pitch - in Previews and I'm delighted to say this first issue certainly pays off on that promise. Crime boss (and former assassin) Rankin is a marked man, and asks twenty of the world's leading assassins to act as his bodyguards. This first issue is a riot in almost every sense of the word: Starks' script barrels the action forward and he's clearly relishing in the clandestine world of cross-and-double-crosses populated by an amazing cast of characters. Erica Henderson's art is brilliant; she gives the real sense of kinetic energy that a plot like this demands, and her sound effect splashes are worth the price of purchase alone. This book is just cover-to-cover, full-throttle entertainment; the best debut issue of 2019 for me thus far. 8/10

MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #1
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Minkyu Jung, Juan Vlasco & Ian Herring
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Saladin Ahmed’s name on a comic book cover is becoming a hallmark of a story rich with complex characters and packed with a dynamic blend of action and pathos. Here, he manages to work a summary of Kamala Khan’s origin into an introduction to her present-day life as a teenager in New Jersey, sets up the complicated balance of friendships which underpin teenage emotional stability, piles the pressure of conflicting loyalties onto our young hero’s shoulders AND puts a threat of giant monsters attacking the city in place, all in one issue, without the essence of any of these threads being lost - it’s adeptly done. Ahmed has a deep understanding of the challenge of being all the people one is expected to be at once in the modern world: a loving and loyal daughter, an understanding and patient friend; to use one’s unique skills with strength, restraint and ethical awareness, and also to locate marauding monsters and punch their lights out. The art team is perfect for this story: Jung’s lively page structure has an eye for the flexibility that Ms.Marvel’s capabilities offer and gives real feeling to an instantaneous sulky mood; Vlasco’s inks give a great range of depth to the images and Herring’s colours give vibrance to fight scenes and sensitivity to faces in emotional distress. A promising start. 7/10

LITTLE BIRD #1
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Art: Ian Bertram & Matt Hollingsworth
Image $3.99

Kenny J: This new miniseries from Image is due to run five issues but if the inaugural chapter of Little Bird is anything to go by then they are going to brim with the epic story Van Poelgeest and Bertram want to tell. The latter’s art reminds me of some of my favourite artists - so much so that I want to go back and source some of his previous work. His lines are delicate, allowing for a huge amount of detail without ever losing its cartoony aesthetic - a perfect combination when there are so many weird and wonderful ideas in these pages. Hollingsworth's colours only help bolster this saga, bringing a menacing serenity to the villains, accentuating the title character's fire and fury - all eyes, teeth and scorched windswept hair - and spraying it all with red. A lot of red. For all its beauty, Little Bird doesn't shy away from the violence of the often warring doctrines of traditionalism, science and organised religion, all framed through an almost Jodorowsky-esque lens. Fans of Image’s stranger, lore-filled titles - specifically Brian K. Vaughan's and Brandon Graham's - should definitely take a look at Little Bird. From me there is no higher praise. 9/10

WOLVERINE: THE LONG NIGHT #3
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Art: Marcio Takara & Matt Milla
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: With all the hoopla surrounding Logan's return to the X-Men, it's nice to shift away from that to a series where he's not firmly in the spotlight, instead lingering in the background, trying to mind his own business and not get involved, but always failing to do so. Based on a podcast, also written by Benjamin Percy, this comes across like a Marvel Universe season of True Detective, with law enforcement agents trying to unravel a murderous mystery in a remote Alaskan town, a certain hirsute individual topping their list of suspects. As is the way with these things, there are plenty of secrets that the townsfolk won't openly acknowledge, and they naturally make themselves less accommodating to the two investigating outsiders. There's a ruggedness to the art that's enormously effective as it suits the characters and setting perfectly. If you're perhaps feel like you have a preference for Wolverine's grizzled loner persona over his spandex adventuring, then this miniseries is for you. 8/10

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado & Victor Olazaba
Marvel $4.99

Mike V: It’s time for 'Hunted' Part One, a nod to the classic Spider-Man story 'Kraven’s Last Hunt', and the first few pages won’t disappoint fans of that run. With a feel more like a traditional Spider-Man comic compared to the previous two issues, there is more action and tension, with Spidey shooting off some great one-liners. Nick Spencer is continuing to do a great job with his Amazing Spider-Man run and his love for the character's history can be seen throughout each issue he writes. Ramos’ artwork looks like an updated version of the original. Once again he has done some fantastic and varied work: starting with those initial pages I mentioned earlier, to some pencil drawn panels for memories, and then back into his normal style for the remainder; it is a joy to see. This issue starts a story that longtime fans will enjoy but which new readers, who may not be aware of past storylines in the Spider-Man comics, could easily treat as a jumping on point. 10/10

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