25 Aug 2019

Mini Reviews 25/08/2019

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: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos
DC/Jinxworld $3.99

Jo S: There are a handful of creative teams in comics currently where the synchronicity between writer and artist is so adept, so much greater than the sum of their parts, that what they build together stands taller somehow than any other in my list of the time. This is Bendis' superpower, I believe: his writing inspires artists to produce something which is just… more, and so it is with Pearl, which wraps its unexpectedly double-length storyline with issue #12. Bendis brings out all the guns: the confluence of Pearl and Rick, Agent Masako, rival Yakuza clans and the Endo twins bursts into flame, almost literally, and even as these stories all come together, Pearl's childhood memories - her parents, her friends - continue to be braided around them to form an intricate pattern. Gaydos pulls out all the stops: bloody action, stoic determination, sweet tenderness - all are given the space to have their full effect. This series has been a magnificent surprise: rumours that it might reach the big screen at some point in the future seem entirely reasonable (subject to the essence of Gaydos' work being transferable). If you haven't sampled this yet, I urge you to pick up the collected series at your earliest opportunity. 9/10

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Steve Lieber & Nathan Fairbairn
DC $3.99

James R: Dare I say it? Okay then - I think this is the best book being published by DC right now! Following on from King & Gerads' Mister Miracle, Jimmy Olsen is also a twelve-issue maxi-series, and whereas that may seem cosmetically the only similarity, this book shares the same level of craft and intelligence that made Mister Miracle such a hit. If you enjoyed Matt Fraction's run on Hawkeye then you'll see and relish the same medium-bending tricks on display here. Taking the the same offbeat style that was the original title's hallmark between 1954-1974, Fraction breaks the issue down into smaller stories which feed into the larger narrative, all infused with a sense of humour and invention that's simply irresistible. For example, there's a a terrific double-page spread of 13 panels that silently 'jump cut'  to exactly why Jimmy is right when he says "I do silly. That's what people want." I defy anyone to find two subsequent panels better than Jimmy fighting off Brainiac with a hammer, and then pictured transformed into a horse, galloping alongside Comet the super-horse(!) In Steve Lieber, Fraction has a perfect partner for this series - he adjusts his style to best fit the tone of the story, and he finds a great balance between the surreal and the grounded, all of which makes the book an absolute treat. This title has been the surprise of the year for me, and if you haven't tried it yet, I recommend getting on board with this phenomenal comic. 9/10

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Jorge Fornés & Jordie Bellaire
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Already one of the finest runs for the Man of Fear in quite some time, writer Chip Zdarsky is proving to be particularly adept at drilling into Matt Murdock's sizeable guilt complex, the philosophical battle between moral justification, lawful justification and religious justification weighing heavily on his shoulders. Meanwhile, Detective Cole North has his own issues to deal with and that comes to a head this issue (again!) with a superbly orchestrated gun battle in a police station, a certain hero joining the fray because he just can't stand by without helping, guilt complex be damned. Jorge Fornés, fresh from a short stint on Tom King's Batman, really shows how well his style is suited to gritty, street-level superhero antics, the images grounded but intense. It may bring to mind a similar scene in the final season of the Netflix Daredevil show, but it works here brilliantly in the the context of the plotline, and is precisely as thrilling as it needs to be. 9/10

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