6 Oct 2019

Mini Reviews 06/10/2019

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: Ann Nocenti
Art: Flavia Biondi & Lee Loughridge
Dark Horse $3.99

Jo S: I was looking forward to this new start from early on, noting its potentially killer combination of a Nocenti story, a female-led murder mystery and the Berger Books stamp of approval - so did it deserve my high level of anticipatory excitement? Well… maybe. Lana Blake is an anomaly in her small mining town birthplace: vegan daughter of generations of butchers, she defies the advice of her set-in-their-ways family and chooses her own path, beginning an investigation of a decades-old cold case on the basis of her grandmother's dementia-tangled, unguarded recollections. I wanted to feel a connection with this rebellious woman, and enjoyed the competing tensions in her life - she loves her family but appears to have little in common with them; she longs to leave her 'one-dog' home town but everyone she loves is there - but so far I'm finding the story a little light, Lana's character a little under-driven. Perhaps the dramatic events of the last few pages will put some fire in her belly for issue #2 - let's hope so. Biondi's artwork is tidy and Loughridge's colours atmospheric; I enjoyed small touches such as the cat playing with the laundry lines and the autumny leaves scattered in the safety net in which Lana lands when her partner Blair refuses to catch her in their trapeze practice. I was perhaps expecting something a bit grittier, more noirish from the blurb; maybe this will develop now the story is starting to roll. 6/10

Writter: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia & David Curiel
Marvel $4.99

Mike S: As House Of X draws to its conclusion, Hickman shows us the full scope of the nation he has been building along with a reality check that the fight for peace between humans and mutants was never going to work: that particular dream is dead and the world of the X-Men is all the better for it, in my opinion, as we move on from the endless cycle of small shake-ups and relocations of the school. Not only do we get some intelligent writing, brilliant world-building and stunning artwork but we also meet the mysterious Quiet Council of Krakoa. It will be interesting to see how, moving forward, these 11 mutants (and the mysterious Red King) can find a way to work together in order to further strengthen the mutant nation. Surprisingly for me, Hickman achieved something that I thought was unlikely to happen again in a long time: making Xavier both interesting and relevant! Finally we get an insightful, bolder Xavier: it seems he (and Marvel) have been reminded by Hickman that survival is not an endless merry-go-round of extinction events but is more interestingly about adaptation (ironic considering the nature of mutation) and finally we see the mutants actually adapt to their new world and status quo. Based on this series, the 'Dawn of X' relaunch is full of potential and I cannot wait to see what Hickman brings to the franchise next. 10/10

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

James R: As we reach the third chapter, Lemire and Deodado's 'barbarian displaced' tale really hits stride. The first two issues established the conceit of the series, introducing us to the Mongrel King, his mystical transportation to our world, and then his fledgling friendship with the homeless Joe Cobb. This chapter really sees the relationship between the two men begin to flourish and, as always with Jeff Lemire's scripts, he really makes you care about these characters. As great as this fish-out-of-water tale is, it's Deodato's art that elevates it to another level. He's always been a brilliant artist, but this is the greatest work he's ever done in my opinion. The big action sequences that peppered the first issue were superb, but this month it's his work conveying emotion that really stands out. From their mutual loss, to their shared fear, Deodato excels at bringing the two protagonists to life. Sometimes reviewing a comic is a matter of intuition - you have to say how the book feels, rather than a rational breakdown, and this is a book that just feels right; two talents at the top of their game, Berserker Unbound is really delivering on its rich promise. 8/10

Matt C: I keep finding each issue of this miniseries to be an unexpected highlight every time it's released. Not unexpected in that I doubted the quality resulting from the combined efforts of Lemire and Deodato but unexpected in the sense that it wasn't quite what I thought it would be and it's resonating much more strongly because of that. Rather than having a Conan-esque character steamrolling with blood and fury through the modern world, Beserker Unbound takes a quieter approach to the concept, providing an intimate meditation on the need for companionship, the need to be recognised, even in a situation where language provides a barrier to communication. Lemire pulls out the similarities between two strikingly different individuals whilst Deodato gets them to subtly express their humanity via brooding compositions and inventive page structure. An unlikely ode to the need to be seen, this is an excellently judged collaboration between two top talents. 8/10

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