11 Aug 2019

Mini Reviews 11/08/2019

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: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia
Marvel $4.99

James R: I've loved the first two instalments of Jonathan Hickman's 'two series that are one' X-Men project, but this week's House Of X is simply extraordinary, confirming that this run is going to be something very special. 'The Uncanny Life of Moira X' focuses on Moira MacTaggert, revealing that Professor Xavier's long-time ally is not only a mutant but one with a remarkable gift - reincarnation. She has lived ten lives, each time carrying the memory of her previous existences, and her decisions in each life have hugely differing consequences. This issue is a magnificent take on the 'Butterfly Effect' idea, and Hickman gives exactly the right amount of time to each of Moira's lives to make the narrative really sing. I liked Pepe Larraz' art in the first issue, but he raises the bar here - he brings a different feel to the multiple lives, and his art matches Hickman's phenomenal script in every panel. It's fair to say that the X-titles have had a long fallow period, but  Hickman has utterly revitalised Marvel's Mutants  and given us the mainstream comics event of 2019. Essential reading, and inspired from first page until last. 10/10

Matt C: An exceptional X-Men comic that charts the complicated, hitherto unknown history of Moria MacTaggart and her profound significance over the X-mythos, doing so in a way that enriches what's come before rather than tossing it to one side. It's an incredibly well conceived and  constructed issue that gradually reveals why a certain scene in Powers Of X #1 was so important to Hickman's story, fully embracing the madcap ingenuity of decades of X-Men continuity by taking it entirely seriously and treating it with respect, but also with the understanding that there's further to go with these characters, beyond the variations of the same old plotlines we've seen numerous times. The art is energetic and emotional, the infographics are a delightful addition, and all in all it does appear as though Hickman is repositioning the franchise as the most important in Marvel's firmament once again. 10/10

Writer: Don Handfield
Art: Leonard Rodrigues, Dijjo Lima
Red 5 Comics $3.99

Jo S: My dad once told me, somewhat sheepishly, that when he was a teenager, he'd started writing a science fiction epic based around a catastrophic event which caused all the water on Earth to sink on freezing rather than floating and, ever since, I've had a bit of a soft spot for the corner of SF devoted to 'change one small detail of reality and see what snowballs'. Image's Skyward series did this to brilliant effect with a change in gravity, and here in The Dark Age, near total societal collapse is achieved by an event in which all of the world's metal crumbles to dust in an instant. Handfield absolutely nails the structure of this first issue - there's no dwelling on the reasons for the incident, five amazing pages of Rodrigues' dramatically detailed art introduce the catastrophe and some key players together, and then we're straight into '13 years later' and a deft explanation of what our characters have become and how society is now reformed by new-old metal-free technology. Dynamic art and vivid colours bring the characters to life and Handfield manages, in a single issue, to tell the first part of a story rich with intrigue, drama, action and heart, and start enough story threads to make issue #2 compulsory - a standing ovation to Red 5 Comics for this absolute outsider win. 10/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Mike Deodato Jr & Frank Martin
Dark Horse $3.99

Matt C: ...which asks, what if Conan found himself in the modern world? Not exactly a unique query as it's been tackled before (see the current example of Savage Avengers) but the fish-out-of-water angle offers up an array of possibilities, allowing a writer of Jeff Lemire's calibre freedom to have some fun with the idea. The sword and sorcery tropes are in evidence, especially in the ominous narration, but there's an underlying understanding of what makes the genre work that makes a suitably intense and purposeful read. And then there's the art. Mike Deodata just seems to get better and better as time passes, and there's some extraordinary imagery within these pages; sinewy and brutal, enlivened by Frank Martin's rustic colour palette, it's often violently beautiful, showing the artist to be perfectly at home in this environment. Impeccable craftsmanship from top to bottom. 8/10

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