1 Mar 2020

Mini Reviews 01/03/2020

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: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: We seem to be getting a bunch of these 'Giant-Size' issues from Jonathan Hickman to spotlight various integral characters to his 'Dawn of X' initiative, and if the rest are as good as this one, they'll all be essential purchases. Here we have Jean Grey and Emma Frost entering the mind of a fallen X-Man in an attempt to save them and, once inside, we get an almost entirely wordless extended sequence which serves as a tremendous example of the power of the artform. Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson pull out all the stops for a dazzling display of visual ingenuity to tell the story via pictures alone, conveying emotions through expression and action only, and it's beautiful, inventive and regularly breathtaking. Of course Hickman's presence is still felt throughout thanks to the pacing and intelligence of the narrative, which is tangible in every panel. An exceptional issue where you really get the opportunity to linger on the artistry of the medium at its best and just how adept it can be at sequencing static panels to create a moving and exciting experience. 9/10

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Ron Garney & Matt Milla
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: The ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing has been a firm favourite of mine for many, many years, since I first encountered him in UK Marvel reprints, the soulful man beneath the rocky exterior. I'm not picking up the current Fantastic Four book but I can't resist an opportunity to spend a little time with Ben Grimm courtesy of some top creators. Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney give us a horror-tinged tale that encompasses (unsurprisingly considering the title) numerous noir tropes (trenchcoats, shadowy figures, paranoia, etc). It all works thanks to Garney's brooding craftsmanship and Duggan's ear for Ben's style of patter - their collaboration is consummate enough to make you wish this wasn't relegated to one-shot status. A Thing solo series would be welcomed with these guys in charge. 8/10

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

Jo S: The best science fiction is never just science or just futuristic fiction, but instead shows a vision of a future which draws on our present as history - no matter how much a sci-fi writer tries to create something novel, something alien, something unrecognisable, sci-fi stories must be founded in truths about ourselves, or they cannot ring credible with us as readers. Jemisin has created something astonishing in this series: a complex alien society which has attempted, and all but succeeded over centuries of history, to rid itself of emotion; something so very different from our world today but yet, as the fractures in the system begin to widen, and riots break out following the murder the Lantern was sent to investigate, the 'humanity' of this alien society is flooding through. The moment where the victim's widow expresses, literally emotionlessly, that she needs the illicit drug which cancels the emotion blocker because she cannot yet even grieve her loss was perfect; Lantern Mullein's logical fury at the behaviour of the ruling council in failing to learn from history is impactful and Jemisin's pacing of the story is faultless. Campbell's art was the original draw to this book and I'm so glad I followed that thread from the Naomi series: Campbell also colours, and the slight over-exposure alongside great structure really adds to the alien feel. This issue closes with pressure on the Lantern mounting from several sources - I can't wait to see where this takes us next. 9/10

X-MEN #7
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Leinil Francis Yu & Sonny Gho
Marvel $4.99

James R: Jonathan Hickman's X-Men continues to take the title into new and exciting directions, whilst building on themes that have been a part of Marvel's Mutants for five decades - the result is a very powerful read. This month's chapter focuses on another metaphysical aspect brought about the establishing of the mutant state on Krakoa. Last time out, we saw how the 'reincarnation' process may be used in unscrupulous ways, and  here,the focus is on restoring the mutant powers to those who were depleted by the Scarlet Witch. The process, known as Crucible, requires the mutant to die and then be reborn along with their powers. Hickman is a smart writer, and he makes this issue a question of faith and belief, wisely bringing in Nightcrawler, the X-Man with easily the biggest theological calling. His discussion with Cyclops as Melodie Guthrie undergoes the Crucible to be reborn as Aero forms the core of this issue, and I absolutely loved it - I particularly enjoy it when Hickman does an issue that can be read in isolation, but hints at a larger narrative, and I was hooked from first page to last. I know Leinil Francis Yu can be a divisive artist, but I thought his work here was superb and in Sonny Gho he has a colourist who really brings the best out in his work. I'm still not sure where Hickman is taking the mutants, or what he's building towards, but at the moment it is a stellar ride, with each issue really showing the potential of the new status quo on Krakoa. This is now easily my favourite book that Marvel are producing, long may it continue. 9/10

No comments: