24 Nov 2019

Mini Reviews 24/11/2019

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: Kelly Thompson
Art: Chris Bachalo, Wayne Faucher, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Livesay, Victor Olazaba & David Curiel
Marvel $4.99

Jo S: Damn, I love Deadpool! I just love him. I think I'm probably not supposed to, and maybe I'm falling for a genius marketing strategy etc etc but I cannot help it, that craggy-faced rogue steals my heart, so I wondered, going into this new start, whether Thompson would tune into the character, whether she could match the enjoyment I'd got out of previous DP series. I can report that, in all honesty, no, there is no matching here: instead this is a whole new realm of awesomeness for the 'Pool. Reading this on a busy early train, I had to grab a tissue as I was laughing so hard it made my eyes stream, to the consternation of fellow passengers. Thompson picks up our Merc with a Mouth and throws him head first into battle with a giant King of Monsters and then threads the backstory to his (currently bisected) situation around the fight and the ensuing ceremonial outcome. Wade's new Chamberlain is a work of genius (think giant shoebill stork/secretary bird crossed with C-3PO); the arrival a certain filthy mouthed Brit monster hunter and her effect on Wade (incapable as he is of leaving a thought unexpressed) is timed to perfection and the means of bringing fan-favourite Jeff the Landshark into the story manages to out-Deadpool even Deadpool himself: Thompson is utterly brilliant and I would be the first to my feet with a standing ovation. Reflecting, amplifying and animating Thompson's skills, Bachalo's art is superb as well: he masters the kind of close-up that takes the reader right into the centre of the action, giving you the feeling that there must be things going on over your own shoulder, and then stretches out to give a wide shot of Wade's... apartment? Lair?... which is so rich in detail and in-jokes that I pored over it for some time. No wonder this took a small army of inkers! I can't recommend this enough: the days are dull and gloomy at this time of year - get yourself some festive Deadpool, it'll perk you right up. 10/10

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Juanan Ramirez, Cian Tormey & Federico Blee
Marvel $4.99

Mike S: Annihilation Scourge: Alpha is the start of a series of one-shots (Nova, Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Fantastic Four and Omega) which reveal what happens when the hive-mind Scourge launch an attack on Marvel’s Negative Zone. In this debut, we have Annihilus and King Blastaar, two villains from the original Annihilation (which I loved). We also have Nova, Cosmo and Silver Surfer, all players from Annihilation and Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s cosmic adventures. We experience a story in which there is unrivalled devastation as heroes and villains are forced to fight to save a crumbling universe. More interestingly perhaps, we also see the trauma this unleashes upon their psyches. Richard Rider has to work alongside Annihilus, the slaughterer of the Nova corps. Annihilus and Blastaar are given new life and depth. Setting most of this issue in the Negative Zone allows artists Ramírez and Tormey to have free reign to explore an unusual, distinctive setting. They create an atmosphere of death and despair, mirroring the harrowing journey of our heroes. This issue promises to make this an event that fans of Marvel’s cosmic universe won’t want to miss. 8/10

Writer: Tini Howard
Art: Marcus To & Erick Arciniega
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: After a hugely confident debut issue, the second episode is equally as convincing at selling its concept. Magic and folklore featuring heavily - as you would expect from the book's title - but never to the extent where it overshadows the various mutants on the team. Character is key here, and this particular mix of X-Men creates a beguiling dynamic, with Betsy Braddock corralling them forward in search of her brother. Apocalypse throws that dynamic off balance, providing an edge to the proceedings that would be absent without him, his own motivations deviating the narrative away from more formulaic territory. It really is down to the characters more than anything though, as it often is with the X-franchise as a whole: Howard has a strong take on their individual voices and To draws out the expressions to match the dialogue, whether through simple conversation or communication in the midst of battle. When it comes to 'Dawn Of X', this is most definitely one of the best of the bunch. 8/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin & Jordie Bellaire
DC $3.99

James R: A while back, Batman writer Tom King responded to the age-old question; is Batman the persona of Bruce Wayne, or is the Billionaire playboy a mask for his true self - Batman? King's adroit answer was to say they are both the 'real' Bruce - he's a complex character. This view is brilliantly realised in this ninth chapter of the 'City of Bane' arc, with Batman forced to deal with the loss of the man who has been his father figure for so many years. It's remarkable that the issue mostly takes place within a locked room, and Mikel Janin really sells it with art that excels here, conveying Bruce's increasing pain and frustration perfectly. I know that King's Batman run has not been to everyone's taste but, as always, his scripts bring a level of intelligence and insight that is a rarity in mainstream comics. We're almost at the endgame of this epic run now, but my melancholy at its end is tempered by the arrival of King's Batman/Catwoman next year - I hope DC continues to benefit from his insight into these iconic characters for years to come. 9/10

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