Thursday, 8 September 2011

52 New Beginnings - The Dark

Animal Man
reviewed by D Kai Wilson-Viola

I’m a HUGE horror aficionado – so when I was handed Animal Man, and told that they were taking it to a new, darker level, I was really excited.

Having read the first comic, I have to say I’m kind of impressed. The overall artwork is slick – there’s a good level of detail – though there is a bit of an old school hint about it too. I liked the background/foreground choices – lots of natural/pale/mid colours, and bold reds and blues. His costume was quite good too. But what I felt was the strongest part of the story was the dream sequence, where I really think the story came into its own. The artwork in this sequence shifts a gear and becomes very strong. I liked some of the imagery used, as well as the emphasis techniques.

Throughout the script was strong in most places, so I had no complaints about the writing at all.

The story premise itself is interesting – an ‘every day’ hero, with a bit of ‘life imitating art’ as he is also involved in an indie movie, talked about a lot at the beginning of the comic. That first dense page may have more significance later on, but for now the first comic sets up the scene nicely.

The colour and storyline are good – there’s lots of visceral, visual stuff, but there were a couple of really standout scenes – the cover being one of them. And the very final panel, involving his daughter was just hard-hitting and rounded out the comic.

If you like visual horror - or stories that take you in unexpected directions - then I think this one is for you. It is very visual and visceral in places, but I think it’s worth trying out. I’m certainly going to keep collecting Animal Man!

Swamp Thing
reviewed by Matt Puddy

With Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette working together on a title how could I not resist!?

Swamp Thing is a title I have never read before, but following on from the Brightest Day Aftermath, it is the only title I have seen this week that has a continuity that flows well.

I have grown a real affection for Snyder’s writing and this title is no exception. Essentially the issue is a scene setter for anyone, like me, who has no understanding of the back story. Revolving around Alec Holland struggling through his recent rebirth and Superman appealing to his newfound human side, the reader gets to learn about what has originally happened without this being a simple retelling or reimagining of the story. It is designed to be something new built on strong original foundations. At the same time you are given both this catch up and you’re thrown into the new storyline as well with enough to catch you but not enough to really spoil either.

My only criticism is the ending which I felt contradicted the Aftermath issues with Swamp Thing having been left more primal and now we’re given a distinct change in manner.

Paquette has worked his magic as well. There is plenty of detail and the use of crowding and colouring really changes the feel between stories. Strangely as well there are areas which almost come across as borders, including the cover, which are almost Japanese in feel and I loved it!

I really enjoyed this issue as something new and different. It also showed the flexibility that both the artist and writer possess too which I admired. Enjoyable, engaging and most importantly fun.

reviewed by Matt Puddy

Paul Cornell brings us s new beginning for Stormwatch as it crosses over from the Wildstorm universe into the DCU.

I was introduced to Stormwatch as the birthplace of The Authority, who boast the writing creed of names such as Ellis, Millar, Brubaker and Morrison so there are some big boots to step into.

A lot of time has been taken to establish the position of Stormwatch in relation to the rest of the known world, even boasting that the known superheroes are amateurs and Stormwatch has been there for centuries. Frustratingly though not enough time has been taken with the who. As a fan I recognise Jenny Quantum, the Doctor, Jack Hawksmoor and the Engineer very easily. Admittedly I found Jack to have more swagger than before but Apollo and Midnighter are just beginning and as such seem to have had complete personality transplants. I’m not yet liking their new looks either. One of my favourite characters in many comics has been altered in a way I don’t like, in both appearance and sound.

From an artistic point of view I found some of it very weak and I’m not impressed with some of the incarnations Sepulveda has created. I can only hope this will change in style but sadly I doubt the overall look will.

This is a jump on point to introduce potential fans but a potential let down in some respects for existing ones. I would still suggest reading it for something outside of the normal though and I’ll still follow it moving forward. The concept of the Moon coming to life, the links with Superman (and potentially Cornell's other DC title Demon Knights) out later this month and the presence of a very familiar face in the form of the Martian Manhunter all make for intriguing hooks.

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