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    Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 4/29/15

    By | May 4th, 2015
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    There are a lot of great books released each week. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.

    Let’s get this party started.

    Brides Of Helheim #5
    Written by Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by Joelle Jones
    Reviewed by Alice W. Castle

    “Brides Of Helheim” #5 is an interesting issue. This is the penultimate issue to second series in Cullen Bunn and Joelle Jones’ “Helheim” series and what I’ve found interesting is that while the first series focused primarily on the draugr Rickard’s vengeance against the witches who cursed him, this issue kind of puts Rickard on the backburner. While he shows up at the beginning and ending of the issue, the crux of the story here is to focus on Kadlin and position her into taking her revenge against the warlock, Raevlin.

    While this development is not unwelcome and Cullen Bunn’s measured pacing of the issue and strict, to-the-point dialogue excel at bringing the atmosphere to the fore, it feels like a departure from view point. This isn’t Rickard’s issue and, to a certain degree, this hasn’t really been Rickard’s series. Like I said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something I found interesting in how Bunn and Jones used Kadlin’s story to expand on the world of “Helheim”.

    The real standout here is, once again, Joelle Jones. Atmosphere is the name of the game here as the action beats are few and far between, taken up mostly by moving characters into position for the finale, but Jones does not drop the ball. It’s not many artists that can keep a single character walking through a forest or desert engaging, but Jones does so by creating a world of danger around every corner with a heavily inked and thick shadowed style.

    Something of note, though, is that while this issue has had no qualms about violence in the past, this issue featured too different sex scenes that showed men and women fully undressed. It was handled in a mature way by both Bunn and Jones and none of the characters existed to be exploited sexually, either in the story or the art. Comics needs more maturity about nudity and sexuality like this book.

    Final Verdict: 6.8 – While the issue was burdened with having to move things into position for the finale, the atmosphere of the writing and artwork as well as its mature take on sex in comics make it a worthwhile read.

    Daredevil #15
    Written by Mark Waid
    Illustrated by Chris Samnee
    Reviewed by James Johnston

    Now that Matt Murdock’s become a household name thanks to Netflix and Charlie Cox’s dangerously sexy lips, “Daredevil”‘ has become a cultural buzzword. And for new readers looking to jump into the print world of the Man Without Fear, well, they may want to catch up just a bit.

    Right now, Waid & Samnee’s “Daredevil” finds Murdock in San Francisco and caught between a vengeful Shroud, a catatonic Owl, The Owl’s morally ambiguous daughter, and a public that’s a little too eager to place its faith in a hero who’s fully embracing his public life. For most of this volume’s run, there’s been a surge of confidence for Murdock. He unveiled his alter ego and everything went pretty well!(?) No one’s killed his loved ones yet, San Francisco’s been pretty average with the villains, and he’s still been able to keep a private life while hiding some secrets of his own. All that comes crushing down in “Daredevil” #15, as one of Murdock’s enemies tears down the new life he’s been so slowly building up, causing him to undertake some drastic measures.

    For a supposedly light-hearted take on Daredevil, Waid really knows how to wear him down, weaving between high flying adventures and some of his lowest moments. Chris Samnee perfectly captures the urgency of Murdock’s life falling to pieces as he swings around town whilst his private life is unraveled through LCD screens. And when Murdock finds himself at his most desperate, the moment is wound tight with the still power found in actors like, oh I don’t know, Vincent D’Onfrio. Promise that’s not a reference to anything.

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    Final Verdict: 8.5 – As has been the case for a while now, Waid and Samnee are the perfect match for Ol’ Hornhead. Two creators at the top of their game who know exactly what they need to do to bring up Murdock’s expectations before throwing them back down. Although there’s some superficial things I’m none too pleased with (Matt’s new look being first and foremost) this is still one of the more consistent books in the Marvel line.

    Fantastic Four #645
    Written by James Robinson, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Tom DeFalco and Jeff Parker
    Illustrated by Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel, Scott Hanna, Joe Bennett, Marcio Loerzer, David Marquez, Tom Grummett, Tom Palmer and Pascal Campion
    Reviewed by Matt Dodge

    The Fantastic Four have been through the ringer lately, both inside and outside of the comic book. Rumors abound that a dispute between Marvel and Fox over the film rights and upcoming movie has culminated in the cancelation of the series. Whether there is truth to this or it’s part of the larger ‘Secret Wars’ storyline, it’s clear that this is the end of an era for Marvel’s first family.

    James Robinson’s run on the title began on a dark note, so the lighter, happier tone of this issue almost feels like he’s making up for his earlier stories. Robinson clearly has a lot of affection for every member of the team and gives each one their moment to shine in the fight against The Quiet Man. Not only that, he uses appearances from many of the Fantastic Four’s allies to make it clear what a pivotal place the family really does occupy within the Marvel Universe.

    Leonard Kirk has produced some truly great artwork doing his time on “Fantastic Four”. With the sheer amount of characters that appear in this issue, there may have been the chance that the art would end up feeling crowed and rushed. Kirk, fortunately, has the skill to make the whole thing feel balanced, with the same high level of attention and detail being applied to every panel. The last page features a beautiful image from Kirk that is sure to get emotions swelling in the chests of FF fans.

    The issue also comes with several small stories that give readers a further look at how the FF and their allies are doing after the main fight has ended. Each brief glimpse really nails each individual character and creates a strong feeling of resolution for each member of the team. The story from Jeff Parker and Pascal Campion that shows Reed Richards bonding with his young daughter is particularly heartwarming.

    Final Verdict: 8.9 – While it seems improbable that this is truly the last ever issue of “Fantastic Four”, James Robinson and Leonard Kirk, along with a their group of collaborators, have worked hard to craft a story that feels fun, exciting and heartwarming, while providing a justly earned sense of conclusion for this family.

    Justice League #40
    Written by Geoff Johns
    Illustrated by Kevin Maguire, Phil Jiminez, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Scott Kollins, Jason Fabok, and Jim Lee
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Before I begin, just take a look at those contributing artists. Great googly moogly.

    It is precisely that group of artists that makes this such a special issue. The first section of the book, illustrated by Kevin Maguire, is New Gods focused, and it is a truly wonderful sequence. Through Metron, Geoff Johns re-tells the story of Mr. Miracle and Orion switching homelands, and Maguire just kills it. This sequence is as beautiful as any in the title’s run. From there, the book takes a detour to become a travelogue for past Crises – “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” “Zero Hour,” “Infinite Crisis,” “Flashpoint,” as well as the New 52 – and lets an era-specific artist tackle those splashes. This, again, presents an incredible visual presentation, making the first 1/2 of the book truly something special to behold.

    The second half of the book brings back original “Justice League” artist Jim Lee, and while the results are still strong, the book loses a bit of its special, timeless quality, and feels more like a standard New 52 comic. However, Lee is no artistic slouch, and manages to bring something strong to the encounter between Metron and the Anti-Monitor, who is given a name for the first time here (sorry, folks, I’m not spoiling that one).

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    Taken in conjunction with the “Divergence” Free Comic Book Day issue, the prelude for the “Darkseid War” storyline works incredibly well. Lots of interesting pieces are put on the table, and the event seems to be building to something that both winks at the past and leads DC into the future – something beyond the New 52.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – A nice walk down memory lane with some outstanding art.

    Outcast #8

    Written by Robert Kirkman
    Illustrated by Paul Azaceta
    Reviewed by Keith Dooley

    Robert Kirkman’s series about exorcists and the evil that lurks in a small town has been crawling, so far, at a snail’s pace. Although this could be considered a bad thing for some books, it hasn’t hindered the effectiveness of “Outcast”. In the eighth issue, Kyle and Reverend Anderson set out to discover if the people that the Reverend has “cured” are actually free of the evil that may still lurk within them. What the two men discover is subtle and truly frightening. In past issues, Kirkman has had a few moments of clunky dialogue. That is not a problem in this issue. His sparse dialogue allows for a more naturalistic interaction between characters and lets the artist and colorist demonstrate their impeccable storytelling abilities.

    The issue is a showcase for Paul Azaceta’s eerie and naturalistic art and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s evocative colors. During one scene between the two exorcists extraordinaire and a man that is possibly still possessed, the pages can be viewed without reading the words. Azaceta builds suspense with his talent of drawing facial expressions and body language that are realistic and highly nuanced. Breitweiser is one of the best colorists around and is deserving of all the hosannas she can get. The dirty lime green color of the sky imbues a tinge of the otherworldly and the heaviness of an evil that lies in wait. Artist and colorist work in tandem to elevate Kirkman’s story in this issue to one of pure horror that lies simultaneously in plain view and within the shadows.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – Despite being a quick read, this series is worth reading and poring over for the horrific tale being weaved by Kirkman, Azaceta, and Breitweiser.

    “Rumble” #5
    Written by John Arcudi
    Illustrated by James Harren
    Reviewed by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje

    I initially took a pass on this series because the cover and the title sort of threw me a bit, so I picked up issue 5 without any context and immediately regretted not grabbing it sooner. Rumble is a twisting, swords and sorcery epic, updated for the modern era, with a diverse cast of both humans and demons. But what makes it stand out from the pack is the execution of a story that has, on paper, been told time and time again.

    Arcudi and Harren wrap up the first arc of their oddball saga in this issue, with Rathaq’s hunt to find his body culminating in an explosive battle between our heroes and an assortment of brilliantly bizarre demons. Arcudi’s scripting has this warm, relatable feel that cuts through the often stale standard for fantasy stories. There’s a subtle humour that sits nicely against the serious, and slightly ludicrous setting, not unlike Mignola’s stoic, unsurprisable characterisation of Hellboy. But this issue shows that he’s confident enough to let the action do the talking when the need arises.

    And, when it comes to action, Harren doesn’t disappoint. His art really sealed the deal for me in terms of “Rumble”’s readability. Incredibly dynamic and detailed, he portrays movement and bloodshed in a way that feels both realistic and almost cartoonish all at once. This issue might be the most violence-packed yet, but it’s not just for show. Harren manages to use the action to tell a fluid, and visceral story that is both pacey and tense in equal measure. Dave Stewart’s colours throughout, but especially in scenes with Nusku the fire demon, are eye-wateringly great in thus issue, while Harren’s exaggerated body designs really come into their own during the final few pages, leaving whole issue feeling like the perfectly executed final act of an action movie.

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    Final Verdict: 8.8 – So good that I had to go back and buy all four previous issues. This first arc is too much fun to miss.

    “Secret Avengers” #15
    Written by Ales Kot
    Illustrated by Michael Walsh and Matt Wilson
    Reviewed by Matt Garcia

    Somewhere along the way, Ales Kot forgot that he was writing Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol as he tried to shift his series into some Jodorowsky-esque territory. What was once a fun, goofy spy series became something about bullying? Whatever it was, this ending probably would have been more suited for Kot’s other series, “Zero”: quiet, cerebral, contemplative. This was a book that needed to go out with a huge climax, but in Kot’s attempts to be overly clever and smug, it comes off with a shrug.

    At least Michael Walsh is still onboard, and his insane artwork remains engaging, bright, and lively all until the very end. For this last issue, he’s mostly only given people talking to each other to draw, but his more ornate designs and layouts continue to push their way in. Matt Wilson’s colors also suggest that this ending should have been something more than this denouement.

    Final Verdict: 4.8 — Michael Walsh and Matt Wilson found a really great collaboration on this book, and continued making great strides toward the very end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like Kot could keep up with his own momentum.

    Silk #3
    Written by Robbie Thompson
    Illustrated by Stacey Lee
    Reviewed by Jess Camacho

    If you had told me 6 months ago that one of my favorite superhero titles would be “Silk”, I would have called you insane. But here we are and I’m raving about the adventures of Cindy Moon. “Silk” #3 finds Cindy still searching for her long lost family and now dealing with the wrath of Black Cat. Dragonclaw is back for more but a twist in thrown in to keep him from becoming too generic of a villain. “Silk” #3 is not a so called “filler” issue but it does act as a bridge to something bigger. Black Cat is used in a really interesting way in this first arc. What Dan Slott did during the Superior Spider-Man era has stuck around and while it’s been met with mixed opinions, Thompson is doing a solid job writing her. She’s not totally unlikable but she’s just villainous enough to feel like a formidable foe for Silk. Despite using Black Cat as the main villain and despite appearances from Spider-Man, “Silk” feels really self contained.

    Stacey Lee is doing a phenomenal job on art. She’s got this very animated, cartoon-esque style but she never veers off into that world too much. “Silk” is very structured but oozes charm. The facial expressions are exaggerated but fit the scenes well. So much comes through despite Cindy’s face being mostly covered. The action is crisp, clean and Silk’s movements are very acrobatic.

    “Silk” is a really strong superhero title that doesn’t get bogged down by all that’s happening in the Marvel Universe and it may just be the best Spidey title going on right now.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – Fun, cute and features awesome superhero action. Don’t skip out on “Silk” any longer.


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