The very late review

August 4th, 2009

We’re gonna be doing this every Tuesday from now on, Kids. Capsule reviews in the dying light of the comics week.

Mindless slack is officially over

detective855coverDetective Comics #855
Published by DC Comics
Story – Greg Rucka
Art – J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart

This time around Batwoman goes toe to toe with Alice, high priestess of crime. In other words, not much happens, but that doesn’t stop this from being one of the richest, most complex superhero reads on the racks. If it were a wine it would would be… well, actually I don’t know anything about wine but it would definitely be red, full bodied and possessed of the jammiest of noses. Williams conjures iconography and atmosphere from the very gutters and, just like the characters, sets them in pitched battle, and it’s a truly marvellous thing to behold. Add to that a well realised and entertaining back-up strip, with just enough story to satisfy, and what you have here is a nigh-on perfect package.

hellblazer257coverHellblazer #257
Published by Vertigo
Story – Peter Milligan
Art – Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini

After steering clear of the mage we love-to-hate-to-love for the last ten years or so – far too much brown and angst – I have to admit that I’m enjoying the hell out of this, the second arc of Milligan’s run. The set-up is reasonably straightforward: John’s decides to force his ex-girlfriend back into his arms by pumping her full of love potion, and force Babylonian monstrosity dressed in the skin of a little girl-boy (complete with school uniform), Julian, off his back the same way. Needless to say, you don’t fuck around with ex-girlfriends and you don’t need jealous, ancient evil tweenagers obsessing about you. In short John is still a right pillock and he’s in deep, how-the-fuck-are-you-going-to-get-out-of-that trouble and that’s just how we like him, but this time his stupidity is given some fizz and fun by a vibrant soft (albeit a tad over-digitised) pastel colour scheme, a sexy squarer jaw, some genuinely funny understated humour, and some good old fashioned soap operatics. Good stuff, and a chunky read to boot.

captainbritain15coverCaptain Britain and MI-13 #15
Published by Marvel Comics
Story – Paul Cornell
Art – Leonard Kirk, Ray Leisten, Brian Reiber

So it’s over. After 15 issues Cornell has left the building, and the building has been pulled down. Taken on it’s own this issue is a bit one note: suprise-twist-cum-deus-ex-machina, followed by goodies win, followed by goodies win, followed by goodies win, the end. Viewed within the context of the arc some of the individual moments shine a little brighter, but after #14’s plotfest on the whole this issue relies on us caring about the characters. Not unreasonable, Cornell’s just spent the last 15 issues attempting to build them in our estimations, but his success or failure here will depend on the strength of your feelings for Cap, Pete and co, and not much else.

Except for maybe a certain wootastic “surprise appearance”. Yes?

Oh yes.

fantasticfour569coverFantastic Four #569
Published by Marvel Comics
Story – Mark Millar, Joe Ahearne
Art – Stuart Immonen

Another ending comes into view, this time Millar’s run on the Fantastic Four. Will the FF be able to defeat Doom’s Master? Will the Thing get married? Will Mark Millar ever be able to surprise us with his approach to plot and character? Answer: no, not even with the help of Joe Ahearne. But despite the fact that the Marquis is one of Millar’s trademark sadistic evil dudes, but there’s a lot of fun to be had here. In typical Millar fashion the decompression of the arc’s previous issues is capped by a densely plotted final installment packed to the rafters with iconic FF moments, clobberin’ times, and sci-fi conceits. The final act focussing on the wedding of Ben Grimm is just gravy: some nice, FF appropriate soap operatics, some nice character moments, all only slightly marred by the appearance of Millar’s go-to dramatic tension building device: mates who act like total wankers.

All in all, shitloads better than that bloody Wolverine arc. Read like a bloody GURPS sourcebook.

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