21 Apr 2019

Mini Reviews 21/04/2019

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: Kelly Thompson
Art: Moy R. and Tríona Farrell
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: I'm sure I'm not the only reader who let out a yelp of surprise on hearing that this tenth issue wraps up the absolutely wonderful West Coast Avengers series, apparently without extant plans for more. Thompson's dismay at the cessation is evident in her letter to the fans and I'm 100% behind her in her hopes that there will be more. If you're unaware so far of the phenomenon that is WCA, I entreat you: go and pester your local comic store proprietors for the trade paperback, I promise you will not be disappointed. But what of this issue? Our brilliant team of assorted misfits are facing down a crew of vampires intent on draining America's blood and Kate's absentee mum seems to be on their side: Thompson has pulled out all the stops for a finale with heart, humour, fast-paced action and enough pathos to leave me in that weird state of happy-sadness at the end. Each of the members of this crazy gang get their arc, and Moy R handles the art as if they've known this team forever. Jeff the cuddly land shark gets his day but it's a measure of Thompson's genius that he still doesn't steal the show. I will really miss this series - in a very big week for comics, it has ALWAYS been my most looked-forward-to. 9/10

Writer: Kyle Starks
Art: Erica Henderson
Image $3.99

James R: I was torn as to what to review this week - I was tempted to review Gideon Falls as that is utterly magnificent, but by now, I think, that's a given. Instead, I feel that I should be a cheerleader for the effervescent brilliance of Assassin Nation. After a confident first chapter, part two carries on the madcap energy. Having wiped out over half of the worldwide ranking assassins last time out, Kyle Starks and Erica Henderson give us the origin stories of (most) of those left standing. It's a piece of comic book gold - the creative team use just five panels per story, but in doing so, they convey the essence of each character. Kyle Starks' script manages to do that rarest of things in comics - there are genuine laughs in these pages - but it's Erica Henderson's art that really pushes the book into the stratosphere. From the brilliantly realised cast to the perfect onomatopoeic effects, her work here is just a joy to behold. Assassin Nation hits the target. 9/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: The first issue of this event series felt like it had a case of too-many-things-happening-at-once, which isn't unusual with this kind of thing, but if you're jumping in head first it's often difficult to get your bearings. Those who've followed Jason Aaron's work on Thor will have a head start and with this sophomore chapter it's clear that things aren't going to let up, so you can either complain or give in and go with the flow! The latter is the wiser option and it does help enormously that Russell Dauterman's art looks awesome: epic and energetic, it thrills with every panel, and Matthew Wilson brings a glorious rainbow of colours to the imagery, ensuring it sears onto the retina. There may not be much room for nuance and subtlety, and there are clearly too many tie-ins flooding the Marvel corner of the market over the next few months, but it's shaping up to be more entertaining than many, a blockbuster that delivers bang for your bucks. 7/10

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Salvador Larroca & GURU-eFX
Marvel $3.99

Mike S: Uncanny X-Men #16 is another interesting issue, despite being somewhat exposition heavy in places. We see the team dealing with trust issues, especially concerning Captain America (understandable considering his treatment – or abandonment – of mutant welfare) and the leadership and direction of the team. It is made especially interesting as Rosenberg has created a team where half of the membership are previous leaders of their own teams. This issue is full of more emotional moments, especially concerning self-discovery, juxtaposed with the climactic external battle. It is nice to read a book where the writer knows the characters, their history and their motivations. While it might not necessarily be ‘new-reader friendly’, I am not a new reader, so I can live with it! The relaunched series has long hinted that something major was going to happen in this issue and Rosenberg certainly delivers. Not only do we get a controversial resolution to the leadership issue (in itself a major and interesting plot point I look forward to seeing develop in future issues) but we then get the return of two 1990s characters, and then not one but two deaths, foreshadowed by the cover of the next issue. I loved the returns – I even loved the first of the death, but the second? Assuming the character actually IS dead (never a certainty!) I am hugely disappointed by the choice of this clichéd plot point and the choice of character, although it was signposted throughout. Still, I hang on to the idea that, in comics, death is an ever-revolving door through which said character might hopefully return. Not only does Rosenberg craft a great issue, in which his narrative takes a darker tone, with real gut punch moments, but also Salvador Larroca does some really great work. The exposition-heavy sections are well thought out and the battles are suitably epic. Larroca also does a fantastic job of creating real humanity and emotional resonance in the issue’s more introspective moments. This all bodes well for the sustainability of the series (well, assuming Jonathan Hickman’s much lauded arrival doesn’t derail things!) and I look forward to more of the same. 8/10

Writer: Devin Grayson
Art: SL Gallant & Luis Antonio Delgado
IDW $3.99

Mike V: This week we're focusing on the team from the 2016 cinematic reboot and Grayson does a really good job of telling an interesting story that stays true to the characters of that film: not an easy task, given the response to to it from some sections of the fanbase. Its slapstick comedy is toned down but the humour is still there and Holtzmann is the most relevant character here (for me, she was the best character to come from the film). Gallant's art is very impressive and captures the likeness of the characters very well, making the world around them feel interesting and engaging, aided again by longtime Ghostbusters colourist Delgado, who never disappoints and who keeps a familiar trend and link between all of the issues and teams. Overall, this is something Ghostbusters fans will find something to enjoy here and is well worth picking up. 7/10

Writer: Robbie Thompson
Art: Niko Henrichon & Laurent Grossat
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: In deep cover, the family of Skrull spies continue their attempts to complete their mission and thwart the project that will expose every member of their race hiding on Earth. While it's a sound plan in principle, in practice there's the family dynamic to consider, and the emotional cost of what they've had to go through so far, the extent of which is revealed throughout this issue. I'm reminded of The Americans again, and I know that's far from the first story to toy with the idea of spies hiding in plain sight, but I miss that show a lot and Meet The Skrulls is scratching a similar itch for me. It's smart, tense and rendered with genuine 'humanity', possessing an affecting melancholic undercurrent. In more ways than one, the protagonists of the series are 'the enemy', but it's impossible not to feel like you're on their side nearly every step of the way. 8/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn
DC $3.99

Kenny J: All things come to an end and the latest arc of Tom King's epic run finds itself concluded in this issue. I have enjoyed the sometimes scary, always heartbreaking trip through Bruce Wayne's subconscious but this final instalment feels like a transitional episode rather than the end of what has been a fantastic series of standalone stories. As Batman fights back against his captors, the real world begins to seep in, the dialogue intertwining with the nightmare, seemingly an attempt to retain that dream feeling that has made 'Knightmares' such a strong concept while reminding us of the bigger plan. It is in Paquette's depiction of Catwoman through her many guises and her interaction with Batman that this issue really excels. In fact for the last thirty or so issues of the main Bat-title it could be said that Catwoman has been the phantom co-star whether she has been on the page or not. This book just cements that. As Tom King moves us into the endgame of his run, my excitement hasn't waned even if this issue feels more of an exercise of moving all the active pieces into place. 7/10

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