16 Feb 2020

Mini Reviews 16/02/2020

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 Layman
Art: Karl Mostert & Dee Cunniffe
AfterShock $4.99

Jo S: If you've followed my short career in comics reviewing so far, you may be aware that time travel is one of my little bugbears BUT, in my defence, my only real problem with it is where it is discovered at the eleventh hour and used to solve an otherwise unsolvable plot problem. Here, in John Layman and Karl Mostert's new outset, the time-scrambling shenanigans are in place from the start, with the opening page featuring the titular 'man', in trainers and a backpack, being chased through streets of folks wearing stovepipe hats by what appears to be a Mongol warrior riding an armoured stegosaurus. Which is not a sentence I expect to use twice in my life. To anyone who has read John Wyndham's short story collection The Seeds Of Time, especially, 'Chronoclasm', this story rings familiar: Sean Bennett, cruelly undervalued lab assistant, hops into the time machine created largely based on his own work, whizzes back in time a little way, and returns, having made only the tiniest of adjustments, to a world which is clearly very much more different than he intended. Mostert's art reminds me very strongly of MartĂ­n Morazzo's work, crisp and fine-lined, with lots of nice detail in historical costume but, combined with Cunniffe's bright daytime colours, it conspires to feel a bit flat and empty in places. Couple that with a distinct feeling of 'I know where this is going', I'm not totally sure this one hit home for me as fully as it might. I'll give it a second issue though - who knows what a small adjustment in the time stream will bring. 6/10

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Liam Sharp, Steve Oliff
DC $4.99

Mike S: Having been given the trades of Season One  at Christmas (thank you, Santa), I have been looking forward to Season Two of The Green Lantern and, while I haven’t always loved Morrison’s writing on some titles, in this case I am totally on board. We get sharp character depiction, crisp and witty dialogue, narrative pace and suitably space-aged concepts reminiscent of the Golden Age of Green Lantern and Mystery In Space. Added to this is some stellar artwork from Liam Sharp which is grandiose and epic in scale while at the same time intricately detailed with some awesome cameo appearances in the crowd scenes. We have a universe of bizarre alien creations which I found refreshing – I thought there was ONE per sector, so how do we have SO many Earthling Lanterns? This return to the basic premise, which even includes cameos from John Stewart and Jessica Cruz, is a welcome one for me. I loved Sharp’s design for Rykaktoro and the way Morrison writes him is equally novel: he’s very alien but refreshingly blunt and I really enjoyed his retort to Jordan’s cynical complaint about him being just ‘sentient salt’. Add to this the mystery of the New Guardians and we have a fun, exciting and reinvigorated Green Lantern title that, while it is only a limited run, is both enjoyable and intelligent and contains concepts that are both new and echo of Golden Age glory. A great jumping on point for new readers! 8/10

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Otto Schmidt
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: When Marvel launched the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye series in 2012 it felt like such a unique take on the character that it was almost certainly going to be one-off and Hawkeye would inevitably go back to being a supporting player in whatever Avengers book happened to be in need of him at the time. Not so. Clearly it proved to be an inspiration to many creators (not least thanks to the spotlighting of Kate Bishop) and the likes of Jeff Lemire and Kelly Thompson have kept Clint Barton involved in various offbeat adventures ever since. This latest series from Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt retains the vibe we're now used to whenever Barton's involved: snappy dialogue, off-the-wall scenarios and an underlying impression of getting through perilous situations by the seat of his pants. This story involves a doppelgänger, a rudimentary time travel device, super villain The Hood and Clint's inability to successfully talk his way out of relationship difficulties. The banter is funny and has a rhythmic quality, the art is exceptionally good at flitting from note-perfect facial expressions to invigorating action sequences and Clint Barton holds onto his position as one of the most appealing heroes in Marvel's pantheon. 8/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart
Image $3.99

James R: It's well established around these parts that I'm a Jeff Lemire superfan, and weeks like this underline just why I think he's the best writer in currently working in mainstream comics. The latest issue of his sci-fi-magic opus Ascender is another superb instalment, but it's Gideon Falls #21 that made my jaw drop mid-read. Once again, he's combined with Andrea Sorrentino to make a unique comics reading experience; the two creators keep finding new ways to push the envelope of what's possible with the medium, creating sequences which are spellbinding and electrifying to read. This issue is the last part of 'Book 4' and, without spoiling it, it feels like an explosive final chapter... yet somehow, the story continues in May! I'm already desperate to see how and where this remarkable book goes next, and I'm incredibly thankful that Lemire and Sorrentino have more story to tell - this is phenomenal stuff from cover to cover. 10/10

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