19 May 2019

Mini Reviews 19/05/2019

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.

NAOMI #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Art: Jamal Campbell
DC $3.99

Matt C: This is a beguiling spin on the Superman origin story, reeling in pieces of the DC mythos to fashion something fresh and affecting, never once feeling like a rehash. Partly it's because the characterisations ring so true, the gradual reveal of information filtering out in an organic manner, the interactions between the cast natural and believable. But it's also the art, and the art here is a big deal. Campbell has rendered some extraordinary imagery on this series, full of energy, emotion and excitement, the bold dynamism of the action-heavy illustrations complemented by the more intimate scenes that are full of warmth and expression. The only criticism that can be levelled at this series is that there only appears to be one more issue left to go. Surely that can't be it? 8/10

GIDEON FALLS #13
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart
Image $3.99

James R: I have said before that Gideon Falls is in some ways Jeff Lemire's Twin Peaks - a metaphysical detective story, rich with mystery. This month, the impossibly high bar that he and Andrea Sorrentino set gets pushed even higher. In the previous chapter, the narrative hinted at splitting off in to parallel dimensions, with Norton Sinclair and Father Burke arriving in a steampunk-hued Earth. This issue spends more time there, but then shows just how ambitious this story is getting as we're pulled through another two Earths (or another two eras) thanks to the breathtaking art of Andrea Sorrentino. Amidst all this, Lemire plays to one of his many strengths: knowing how to reveal parts of a mystery whilst teasing us with the potential story to come. When reading this, I was absolutely immersed in the experience and I find that's a gold standard in comics. I think it would be Hobson's choice to ask me to pick between this and Black Hammer as my favourite ongoing title, but with this issue, Gideon Falls just nudges ahead - from the brilliant cover to the final panel, this is comics perfection. 10/10

FAIRLADY #2
Writer: Brian Schirmer
Art: Claudia Balboni & Marissa Louise
Image $3.99

Jo S: Not a whisper of 'The Rain in Spain' nor a glimmer of Rex and Audrey to be seen; this confusingly titled (in my opinion) series is actually Magnum P.I. - if Thomas Magnum was female, T.C. and Rick were combined as a giant cat-person and Oahu was replaced with a sort of archaic futuristic post-global war world where cities grow up inside the ruin of a gigantic fallen android. Image's gift of freedom for creators allows Schirmer to generate this as a series of individual episodes; just as with a TV detective series, each issue has a self-contained story whilst also developing the core characters. In this issue, Faulds and sidekick Oanu are in search of a Fair Man (a fellow private investigator) who has been, according to the unconvincing statement of the constabulary, killed by a dragon. Pulling off a complete story like this in one issue presents challenges - we're forced to forgive a few shortcuts in any detective series attempting it - but Schirmer, Balboni and Louise have the required chops: it's beautifully presented, cleverly constructed and intriguingly twisty. I hope that future issues will show more facets to the main characters and will certainly be watching as this develops. 7/10

AQUAMAN #48
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic, Jonathan Glapion, Daniel Henriques & Sunny Gho
DC $3.99

Mike S: Having defeated Namma, Arthur is rewarded with the return of his memories, and thus begins a new arc as he embarks on the next steps in his journey rebuilding, in the 'Mother Shark' arc, what was stripped away in the previous one. Issue #48 dives deep (see what I did there?) into the history of Aquaman, exploring his past through his memories and, like last week’s 'Flash Year 1', redefining and reconnecting with what makes him who he is and with what he has lost. Thinking about DeConnick’s aims with Aquaman, it’s no coincidence that her first two arcs contain mothers (Namma and Shark) and that the loss of Arthur’s mother is such a defining part of his character (not unlike others – Batman, Flash etc: seriously DC what do you have against mothers?). It seems that, in exploring and rebuilding Aquaman, DeConnick might take us on a journey away from Atlantis and the political machinations therein, and onto the land to explore the other aspect of his character: his humanity. And especially how this humanity is sculpted by his losses, with that of his mother being the most fundamentally scarring of them all. DeConnick delivers a contemplative tale that is highly engaging and full of revelation, culminating in an interesting end of issue reveal that promises to propel Arthur’s story further into the realms of drama. Her creativity is extraordinary and while the issue is slower paced than previous instalments, this is no bad thing as it allows us to fully explore Arthur’s character and really dig into who DeConnick wants him to be. Viktor Bogdanovic’s art is simply stunning. It is detailed, his faces are expressive and this is possibly some of his finest work, complemented beautifully by the inks of Glapion and Henriques and the colours of Gho. In summary, this is a refreshing take on Aquaman and one that I was initially highly sceptical of - and yet one that I am totally sold on. It is a run full of fresh ideas and perfectly executed characterisation and, if DeConnick continues in this way, she is in serious danger of producing one of the most uniquely memorable and enjoyable runs on the book in a long time! 9/10

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH #2
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Veronica Fish & Andy Fish
Archie Comics $3.99

Kenny J: Tonally this book sits somewhere between the recent Netflix show and it's lighter 1990s counterpart; a fine line that Kelly Thompson walks expertly, bringing the high drama of high school and interweaving it with monstrous goings-on. Following immediately on from the events of the first issue gives this new reimagined Sabrina book a fast-paced feel with the part of every character that we aren't at least familiar with already set out, and the mystery well under way. There are definitely similarities to another blonde magic-wielding woman kicking demon ass but I'm finding Thompson's writing more fun and fresh on this protagonist. Veronica and Andy Fish's art is a perfect fit for the mix of traditional school setting and the creatures hidden within. Their line work is vividly complemented by dark blues and browns, with splashes of vibrancy, especially that hot pink when Sabrina casts a spell. This is the second part of what has been solicited as five parts but the enjoyment I've had from the first two instalments has me hoping for more beyond this story. 8/10

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