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: John Lees
Art: Ryan Lee & Doug Garbark
Jo S: John Lees writes off-kilter tales which are horror on the surface but very much about people underneath, and in this new series he pulls off a glory of complexity. Abraham and Noah live outside the law and, in Noah's case, on the very edges of sanity, surviving by burgling homes and hopping from place to place, constantly moving to avoid capture. Lees writes Noah's paranoia brilliantly and Ryan Lee mixes caricaturesque faces with super-clever panel structure to give us real empathy with the father and son - until we realise that Joseph Heller's quote is apt: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not after you - and Abraham (or 'James') finds his world crashing down around him as everything he'd relied on turns out to be a lie. Of course, this being a John Lees book, even the 'normality' Abraham is returned to after his ordeal is distinctly skew-whiff, and there's no time to dwell before things start to get weird again. Lees writes dark, it's true, but he also writes twanging heartstrings, aching loss, touching connection between damaged people - and great dogs too! 8/10
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia
James R: By now, it's very clear that Hickman has created something special with his House/Powers Of X double hit. In his last newsletter, Ed Brubaker told how during a recent visit to his LCS, he saw two men on their lunch break going in specifically to pick it up, and how that was a great thing. I have a close friend who is an occasional comic reader who heard about the hype surrounding this event and has picked it up and, naturally, is loving it too. Even as a jaded old comics fan, I love it when things like this happen and it's a testament to both the X-Men's enduring appeal and Hickman's talents as a writer that the series is living up to expectations. This week, the action focuses back on the present day 'X1' timeline with Cyclops leading a team to deal with the threat of Orchis' Mother Mold in orbit around the sun. However, what sounds like a very standard X-plot is elevated by the knowledge of the potential dark futures seen by Moira MacTaggert. Despite my initial scepticism, House and Powers Of X really do dovetail perfectly, and it's a thrill to see the speed in which Hickman is pushing the narrative forward.
Once again, the art from Pepe Larraz is excellent, and a special salute for Marte Gracia's colours, which give the images a perfect sci-fi sheen. Six chapters in and it still feels like Hickman is just getting started - and that's a very exciting prospect. 9/10
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Greg Smallwood, Mark Bagley, Luciano Vecchio, Pere Pérez & Erick Arciniega
Jo S: Although the bulk of this one-shot stars just 25% of the titular team, it's chock full of fun and heart, and slathered with New York accented relish. From the flashback introductory pages, beautifully designed to mimic the yellowed paper and dotted print of old comic books, to the final page flourishing reveal, it's packed with little nods to the classics as Ben Grimm sets out to marmalise the perpetrator of a graffito, and ends up on a mission to save the neighbourhood from greedy property owners eager to gentrify the locality. Some lovely touches: Reed Richards has a machine that can track paint fumes just sitting within (even a normal human) arm's reach when Ben needs it; the sign for 'Spacebucks Coming Soon'; the variety of unrealistically inoffensive insults thrown in a street fight. If you're looking for a treat for your kids (or for you!) to soften the blow of returning to school this week, this would be a great choice. 7/10