17 Nov 2019

Mini Reviews 17/11/2019

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: Vita Ayala
Art: Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi & Dono Sánchez-Almara
Marvel $3.99

Mike S: So right off the bat, I have to confess to never having been a huge Spider-Man fan (shocking I know!) so my experience of Morbius is limited to random appearances in other books, an occasional miniseries along the way or a one shot. Looking for something new, and enjoying my forays into the more horror-tinged elements of comicdom, I decided to give Morbius a chance and I am glad to say that, so far, I am pleased that I did. While this issue is set in only two locations, it is a solid introduction to both the character and the concept of the vampiric anti-hero with a moral compass. In a throwback to his origins, we get a debut issue that is almost '70s in its sensibilities: a very straightforward story based in action which is then elevated by a nostalgic Marvelesque dose of thought-provoking philosophy - this time on the moral turpitude and fibre of humanity in the form of some Aristotelian ethics and a belief in the ‘greatest good’. The action sequences involving an attack on the Melter and his cronies is scripted simply but effectively and drawn well, with dynamic use of colour, shadow and movement. There is a real sense of horror to the artwork that, while it cannot match the work of the legendary master of horror books (Gene Colan if you’re wondering), it is nevertheless strong and powerful in its own right. Morbius #1 delivers a '70s inspired mix of horror, bloodshed and angst, juxtaposed with smart philosophy in an issue that is well balanced enough to appeal to most readers. 8/10

Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Art: Jamal Campbell
DC $3.99

Matt C: A homicide investigation in outer space as rookie Green Lantern Sojourner 'Jo' Mullein attempts to uncover the culprit behind the first violent crime recorded on the City Enduring in five centuries. Jamal Campbell was the main selling point for me on this new miniseries following his eye-popping stint on Naomi this year and he delivers here in spades with some extraordinarily lavish, beautifully designed imagery that does a sterling job of envisioning a fantastical sci-fi environment. N.K. Jemisin - an unknown quantity for me - displays some exemplary word-building skills, rich in detail and invention. The characterization is strong and varied, GL Mullein in particular standing out as a resourceful lead who's still clearly learning the ropes. It's a gorgeously assured debut issue that requires your attention. 8/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Phil Hester & Eric Gapstur
Image $3.99

James R: When my favourite working comics creator brings out a new series, I'm always excited, and this week Jeff Lemire was the creative force behind two outstanding books. Gideon Falls (with Andrea Sorrentino) was my book of the week, but this first chapter of Family Tree was a very close second. This book touches on some familiar Lemire tropes - an apocalyptic event, family, and small town life -  but promises to give a fresh slant on all of them. We're introduced to the Hayes family, struggling to stay afloat in Lowell, Maine, in the late 1990s, who are forced into drastic action when daughter Meg begins to transform into flora. Lemire teases us by promising us that Meg is just the first victim of what would become 'the end of the world' and by keeping the identity of the narrator of the tale a secret, and as always with a Lemire book, the narrative is perfectly paced. This comic has the perfect artist in the shape of Phil Hester; when his last book, Shipwreck, was out, I commented that he somehow seemed to be getting better and better, despite being an A-list artist, and he continues that trend on here. With inker Eric Gapstur, he creates pages which are striking and stark. He's also brilliant at conveying the body horror at the heart of this series, and I can't wait to see what he has in store in the upcoming issues. A confident, creepy and intriguing first issue, Family Tree looks like it's going to blossom into Image's next success. 9/10

Writer: Joëlle Jones
Art: Joëlle Jones & Laura Allred
DC $3.99

Jo S: I love a gimmicky cover, it's a little penchant of mine, and the acetate overlays DC have added to their 'Year of the Villain' event this year are a real treat for me, telling a little extra bit of story, as they do, to add to the content of the book. This week's Catwoman cover is especially delicious, reflecting nicely the dichotomy Selina faces within the pages: our feline femme fatale gazes at an image of herself in a magical mirror, surrounded by fellow heroes, but lift away the outer layer and underneath she is instead gazing on - the other part of her personality? Or is it a path she might choose? Cover artists Finch and Firchow can't tempt me away though from the glory of Jones' work on the inner pages though. In her writing, drawing and design, Jones entirely and completely inhabits the Cat: every image of her is entrancing, every style decision captivates. Recent issues have danced around the timeline - glances at Selina at the Lazarus Pit, snippets of spectral Luthor like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and scraps of ghastly Raina Creel tormenting family and staff and clearly plotting something truly villainous have proved difficult to decipher, and here Jones lines these up more clearly for us, all the while conspiring with colourist Allred to give us the most glorious feast of elegant romance contrasting grotesque corruption of the human form, with some stunning Cat-as-biker action for good measure. There's even a cheeky little fast forward section where our claw-tipped hero/villain speeds us through a bit she's not proud of. I don't think I will ever not love Jones' work and I loved how this issue tidied up a few things that had me a little lost before - TA-DAAA! - a big reveal at the end points us at the next phase of the story. 8/10

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